Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Coughlin-Coulter Connection

Can Millions Of Listeners Be Wrong?

"If you take what I say as gospel, you’re an idiot.”
--Glenn Beck, Fox News

During the height of his radio career, Father Charles Coughlin drew a weekly audience estimated at 40 million, or roughly one third of the nation at that time.

Preaching the gospel of what can only be categorized as bigotry and hatred -- rationalizing the policies of Adolph Hitler and blaming everything from the Russian Revolution to the Great Depression on the Jews -- Coughlin was revered by his followers, who were legion.

The followers of the likes of Rush Limbaugh -- and by extension, Ann Coulter, once described as Rush Limbaugh in a mini-skirt -- are legion as well. Indeed, in a single broadcast Limbaugh, and his Fox News counterpart, Bill O'Reilly, surpass the 40 million listener/viewer mark many fold.

And so spews the bigotry, the hate-mongering, the factually-deficient and morally baseless accounts of opinion that pass for something newsworthy. The stuff that spawns the likes of Coulter's "We just want Jews to be perfected" comments.

Unlike Limbaugh (a college drop-out), who is laughable even on his best days -- a cigar-chomping, pill-popping W.C. Fields of the uber-right -- and Bill O'Reilly (we blame his misguided rants on having ingested too much of that Levittown water in his youth), whose ratings (though often exaggerated) are based more on entertainment value than content, Father Coughlin, a Roman Catholic priest, and Ann Coulter, with an undergraduate degree from Cornell and a law degree from the University of Michigan, bear credentials, which, if nothing else, give legitimacy to what they have to say. Well, at least in the case of Coulter, until she opens her mouth.

No doubt, Father Coughlin, with his anti-semitic rant heard across this land, believed every vitriolic utterance that found its way into a microphone and unto the ears of millions of Americans, many of whom accepted what Coughlin preached as the gospel truth.

As for Coulter, one wonders whether her obnoxious irreverence isn't more of an act, gauged to sell books and create a media stir, than it is her core belief. And yet, how many Americans take what Coulter -- and her Limbaugh/O'Reilly/Hannity marionettes -- have to say as the absolute truth? Millions, no doubt.

Stifle the words of hatred, bigotry, and indecency? Censor the likes of Coughlin and Coulter?

Absolutely not.

Their words should be heard -- must be heard -- loud and clear, by millions, no, by billions, around the globe, translated into every language, and transcribed in every newspaper.

YouTube their petty missives into cyberspace. Parade their outlandish ilk onto every talk show.

It is only then that such words -- and the flawed thought processes behind them -- can be exposed as the by-products of narrow minds from which they, like raw sewage, seep; confronted, by those who listen to each callous word, and glean their scathing, bitter intent; denounced, by good and decent folks, everywhere, as the rhetoric of hate; and, ultimately, defeated.

So keep listening to Rush Limbaugh, and by extension, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity, assuming you have the time for a good belly laugh. Just remember, as Glenn Beck would say, "If you take what they say as gospel, you're an idiot!"

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