In 1999, while navigating impeachment, William Jefferson Clinton delivered his State of the Union address, announcing that he had awarded the Medal of Freedom to Rosa Parks.
Parks, the iconic civil rights advocate, was the personification of an American who had courageously risked everything to advance the cause of freedom and racial justice.
During his identically timed appearance before Congress, Donald John Trump announced he had awarded that same high honor to Rush Limbaugh. If there had been any residual doubt about this president’s obvious racist sympathies, this choice for the nation’s highest civilian honor has laid them to rest.
Rather than standing up for human rights, Limbaugh has used his 40-year radio platform to spew out the most bigoted and hateful epithets — and has been frequently been denounced even by his conservative peers. He was Trump’s equal, as both falsely insisted for years that Barack Obama was not an American citizen.
Limbaugh frequently played a hideous song entitled, “Barack, the Magic Negro,” clearly meant to racially attack and belittle the first African-American president. His rhetoric was consistent in only one regard: He, like Trump, was devoted to spreading hate filled content — a mission he clearly relished. His audience tuned in eagerly to hear this cruel demagogue.
And if Trump intended this award to serve any purpose other than pandering to the GOP base, that purpose is cleverly well hidden. The rest of us who hold Rosa Parks in high esteem won’t tolerate the comparison.