Limbaugh, Monsanto, the Occupy movement, and the line connecting them
by Debra DeAngelo
Well, poo. All the really great eviscerations of Rush Limbaugh have been written. Maureen Dowd did it best (New York Times, March 3) and Jon Stewart did it funniest (The Daily Show, March 5), so commenting now would just be gratuitous piling on. Nonetheless, I feel gypped, so I must pile a little. I was loathing Limbaugh before loathing Limbaugh was cool. I have one of the original “Flush Rush” stickers on the wall here at the Express office from, like… 1994, maybe?
It’s from the Rush and Dave show era, when Limbaugh (who had a Sacramento radio show at the time) and Davis icon Dave Rosenberg faced off on television. Or was it radio? Hard to remember through the haze of midlife sometimes. But I do remember that the show was short-lived because watching Limbaugh mince Rosenberg over and over got boring. Intelligence is no match for bombast.
I wonder if cutting his teeth on easy Davis meat helped Limbaugh leapfrog to national prominence, gathering lucrative radio sponsorships along the way. His success spawned other similarly loathsome conservative celebrities, like Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter, and greased the wheels for the ultimate vehicle of partisan tripe, Fox Spews — err – “News.”
If only Rosenberg hadn’t been calm, articulate and intelligent. This is why Democrats never win. They can’t seem to grasp that Republicans don’t play nice, which is why Democrats always end up hanging by a wedgie from a gym locker door. If only Rosenberg had begun his rebuttals with, “Rush, you fat, bloated, lump of human excrement,” maybe poor Sandra Fluke wouldn’t have ended up getting verbally raped by Limbaugh further down the line.
Ironically, Fluke is a sacrificial lamb of sorts. Limbaugh’s “slut” insults and assertion that he’s entitled to videos of her sex life were the flashpoint. It suggested a stunningly nauseating image of a tearful, humiliated Fluke splayed out on video while Limbaugh pops a Viagra and spanks himself, and the public’s tolerance for his megalomanic bile finally snapped. The collective roar of “Enough is enough” was loud enough for Limbaugh’s sponsors to hear. And listen.
Within one day of Limbaugh’s Fluke comments going viral, along with lists of his sponsors, Sleep Train yanked their ads from his show, quickly followed by, at last count, 43 others. Like the public, Limbaugh’s sponsors were unswayed by his sad, hollow “apology” to Fluke. Rush isn’t sorry he attacked Fluke, he’s only sorry it hurt him financially. Not hard to see who the real slut is here.
Besides yet another screaming example of the Radical Right’s burgeoning misogyny, the other takeaway to this story is that when the public fights back with the only real weapon it has — money – it can be a game-changer.
Allow me to connect this dot to another: On March 16 and 17 in Davis, the Occupy Sacramento group is helping to organize a protest in front of Calgene (which is owned by Monsanto), located at 1910 5th Street, beginning at 6:30 a.m. The protest is one of several planned at Monsanto sites for “Global Solidarity Days of Action to Shut Down Monsanto.”
A Facebook “friend” announced the protest, and encouraged others to participate. I balked. I asked what would actually be DONE to fight Monsanto’s stranglehold on our food supply beyond yelling and waving signs; what was the specific plan of attack that will smack Monsanto hard enough to make it sit up and pay attention. Well, err, nothing, he responded. It was about raising awareness, like the Occupy movement.
Now, although the Occupy movement is to be applauded for propelling grotesque financial disparity into mainstream awareness, it hasn’t evolved beyond yelling and waving signs, except maybe in Oakland where it dissolved into riots and vandalism. That said, protesting to raise awareness is better than doing nothing. But not much. The Occupy movement must mature to the next level of protest: action.
Case in point: While talking with an avid Occupy supporter, I asked him where he banks. He named one of the biggest Big Banks. I pointed out the irony of financially supporting the same industry he was protesting. Why hadn’t he moved his money to a small, community bank? His response: “It’s just more convenient to bank there.” Therein is a glimpse into why the Occupy movement isn’t progressing. Ultimately, at the end of the protest day, Americans are intrinsically too lazy to save themselves.
To the Monsanto protestors: You’re taking the first step: raising awareness. Fabulous. But (and all you Occupiers pay attention) you must learn from the Fluke flap. You must transform your collective roar of “Enough is enough” into dollar signs. If Monsanto makes it, or invests in it, don’t buy it. It’s that simple.
If it contains genetically modified (GMO) corn or soy, it was probably made by Monsanto. Put it back. Start reading labels, and you’ll discover Monsanto-designed corn syrup in everything from soup to lunchmeat. It’s horrifying. Learn about the impact Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds have on farming worldwide. It’s even more horrifying.
A complete list of Monsanto products and investments is a mouse-click away online, and includes Aspartame (NutraSweet/Equal), Roundup herbicide and dairy products from cows treated with genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). Adjust your shopping list accordingly, and let the manufacturers know what you’re boycotting and why. And if protesting is cathartic and makes you feel better, fine. But at the end of the protest day, you must be willing to sacrifice convenience if you really want to make a tangible difference. That’s right, people: No NutraSweet in your coffee, and start pulling your weeds.
I’ll keep pounding this drum until my hands bleed: Move your money, move your money, move your money – whether it’s your checking account, or your next mattress purchase, or to the local farmer’s market. Now THAT is a protest that makes a difference.