Put politics aside, if you can, and consider the noble and inspiring history of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. It is given to individuals who have made “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Some previous recipients: Fred Rogers, 10 Supreme Court justices, Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts), Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (architect, designer), I.M. Pei (architect), Georgia O’Keeffe (artist), Walt Disney, Bob Hope, Tom Hanks, T.S. Eliot, Harper Lee, Rear Adm. Grace Hopper, Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. All made the world a better place through their talents, compassion and selflessness. They made a positive difference.

And then there’s Rush Limbaugh, a racist, fear-mongering, draft-dodging (he had a very curable pilonidal cyst) radio host who will leave a legacy of division, intolerance and hatred. He announced he’s fighting lung cancer, apparently prompting the honor. Limbaugh’s opinions are appalling and gag-worthy. Here are just a few (credit to Sandy Sansing on Facebook). All quotes are verified:

Rush on the genocide of American Indians:

“Columbus saved the Indians from themselves.”

Rush on Michael J. Fox having Parkinson’s disease:

"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act ... This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."

Rush on African Americans voting:

“[African Americans] are twelve percent of the population. Who the hell cares?”

Rush on the NFL:

“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.”

Rush on feeding poor children in public school:

“If you feed them, if you feed the children, three square meals a day during the school year, how can you expect them to feed themselves in the summer? Wanton little waifs and serfs dependent on the State. Pure and simple.”

Rush on a 13-year-old girl:

"Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is also a White House dog?” (holding up a photograph of 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton)

Rush on exercise:

“Exercise freaks … are the ones putting stress on the health care system.”

Rush on feminism:

"Feminism has led women astray. I love the women’s movement — especially when walking behind it.”

Rush on LGBT:

“When a gay person turns his back on you, it is anything but an insult; it’s an invitation.”

Rush on women protesting sexual harassment:

“They’re out there protesting what they actually wish would happen to them sometimes.”

Rush on the homeless population:

"Isn't that how the homeless became homeless? They used to be institutionalized and a bunch of liberals came along and said, "They have rights! You can't keep them there"?"

Rush on Sandra Fluke, who testified that women should have access to affordable contraceptives:

"It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We're the pimps. (interruption) The johns? We would be the johns?

Words of wisdom, comfort and humanity that make Rush Limbaugh totally deserving of that high honor?

On the flip side, let’s read one quote of many from a totally deserving recipient, Mr. Rogers: "As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has — or ever will have — something inside that is unique to all time. It's our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression."

What a travesty.

Contact this reporter at editor@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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