COMMENTARY | Most who listen to Rush Limbaugh don’t think too much about what he is saying. That’s why they — as a collective — earned the nickname “dittoheads” back in the day when Limbaugh lorded it over both a radio and television empire. But those who do still think while the man drones on (and on) about how liberals and Democrats are driving America down the highway to hell in a truck loaded with handbaskets must have cringed inwardly when Limbaugh started talking about the new line of Triple Double Oreo cookies from Kraft and began insinuating President Obama into the mix. And if most Americans had given Limbaugh the benefit of the doubt over the years concerning the various charges that he might be either a racist or a closeted one, that benefit probably now has been rescinded.
On his radio talk show Wednesday, as revealed by Media Matters, Limbaugh cited a Chicago Tribune article concerning the new Triple Double Oreo cookie, a cookie that has three wafers and both chocolate and vanilla creme filling to separate them.
“Well, it — what it’s going to be here, it’s actually a biracial cookie,” Limbaugh said as he described the new product.
“The Triple Double Oreo,” he continued. “You wait, it isn’t going to be long before it’s called the Or-Bam-eo, or something like this. Well, it’s a biracial cookie, here. And this story is from the Chicago Tribune, and it’s all about Kraft’s juicing up its investment in the Oreo in recent years. Legitimate businesses.”
Limbaugh went on to talk about how one could get Oreos in ice cream and being able to get Rolos candy in McDonald’s shakes. But Limbaugh can’t resist just one more swipe at Obama, tying the entire idea into some pretzel logic attack against the president and the First Lady.
“In the midst of all this talk of obesity. And, I mean, every time Michelle Obama goes out there and talks about healthful eating, the food industry responds with, ‘Oh, yeah? Take this.’ And Kraft comes up with the Or-Bam-eo, the triple double-dipper.”
Those who think nothing of such remarks should know — and most already do know — that an Oreo is not only a cookie made by Kraft Foods. It is also a denigrating slang term used to pejoratively describe a black person who acts as if they are actually white (black on the outside, as the slur is defined colloquially, white on the inside), a pretender, an impostor, a fraud. It is used to describe others who appear to be something they are not. Sociologically, it is the social backlash in verbal form against the assimilation of an individual into another social structure or culture.
It is also common knowledge that President Obama’s lineage includes his white Kansas-born mother as well as his black Kenya-born father.
To say that Rush Limbaugh was not aware of the double-meaning is to stretch the bounds of credibility. And it would not be true. In a diatribe against comments about race made by Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Limbaugh mentioned an incident where then lieutenant governor Michael Steele of Maryland allegedly had had Oreos thrown at him during speeches. His reference to a new Oreo cookie with both chocolate and vanilla creme stuffing being called an “Or-bam-eo” is simply an extension of the street pejorative. It is nothing short of a racial (more specifically, a bi-racial) slur.
He also passed the story off as something presented by the Chicago Tribune. It was not. The Tribune story highlighted the introduction of the Triple Double Oreo, which is what it is called. It is Americanized version of the cookie concoction created in Argentina called the “Oreo x3,” or “Por Tres.” There is no suggestion in the article that “Or-bam-eo” would be used. Not by those interviewed. Not by the staff writers who wrote the article.
And then there is the outright insinuation that somehow Michele Obama is responsible for the creation of something like the Triple Double, that her speeches about maintaining good health and healthy eating somehow goads the food industry into producing foodstuffs that contribute even more to the obesity of America.
Simply put: In his constant crusade against any and all things Obama, Limbaugh decided to do what he has done here and there throughout his career — dabble in a little racial stereotyping, race-baiting, and/or outright effrontery.
Back in 2003, while a commentator on ESPN, he made the comment that part of the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback problem was Donovan McNabb being quarterback, which was the result, he said of “social concerns” in the NFL, “…the media being desirous that a black quarterback do well.” He later resigned over the remark.
On his radio program in 2007, he complained about the showboating and excessive celebrating going on in the NFL, then said, “Look, let me put it to you this way: The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.”
He also once advocated dismantling the National Basketball Association. After the headline-making brawl in 2004 between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons, he said, “You just gotta be who you are, and I think it’s time to get rid of this whole National Basketball Association. Call it the TBA, the Thug Basketball Association, and stop calling them teams. Call ‘em gangs. You have the Laker Gang, you have the Heat Gang, you have a Timberwolf Gang [distortions of official team names], and let ‘em strap up out there, and let ‘em market their CDs. Instead of selling concessions, sell CDs out there at the concession stand.” Limbaugh later added, “They’re going in to watch the Crips and the Bloods out there wherever the neighborhood is where the arena happens to be, and be who you are.”
In fact, it was his apparent racially-tinged comments and statements over the years that ultimately led to his failed bid to become a partial owner in an NFL team.
Is Rush Limbaugh a racist or closet racist? Although he may not be what many consider a full-on racist, and the argument can be made both pro and con on the matter, it certainly appears as if the closet door is often left ajar.