Republicans in the Wisconsin State Senate voted to honor conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh last week, while also voting against recognizing Black History Month.
Republican senators championed Limbaugh as an “unforgettable” voice in support for conservative policies, despite a controversial history of hosting his radio show.
Limbaugh made numerous controversial comments over the years on the radio, ranging from spouting racial stereotypes and slurs when speaking about National Football League games, to belittling the LGBTQ+ community during the AIDS crisis, to calling a college student a “slut” for testifying in favor of health insurers covering contraception, among others.
The move to honor Limbaugh comes after Republicans of the assembly declined to pass a resolution recognizing February as Black History Month and honor Black leaders. Eight Wisconsin men and boys who were killed or seriously injured during interactions with police are included in the resolution.
“If controversy was an issue with the Black History Month resolution, it should have been brought to the floor for an up or down vote, as the Limbaugh resolution was,” the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus (LBC) said in a statement. “Instead, the resolution was denied to even be heard by members of both houses.”
Both Democrats and Republicans of the legislature refused to concede to each other's changes to the resolution. Among other changes, white Republican representatives wanted to remove Stacey Abrams, a Democratic voting rights activist, and add Senator Julian Bradley of Franklin, who was the first Black Republican to serve in the Wisconsin Senate.
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna claimed Republicans opposed the resolution in part because it recognized the protest group, ‘The People’s Revolution’ and Khalil Coleman, an activist who led Milwaukee marches in protest of the death of George Floyd. Coleman was recently arrested in Kentucky on charges of second-degree robbery and second-degree unlawful transaction with a minor.
“Honoring an oppressor while being critical of the oppressed is not a good look for someone that co-chairs a task force on racial equity,” Democratic Senator Jon Erpenbach said on Twitter, in response to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos saying the Limbaugh resolution wasn’t very controversial for Republican members.
“The legislature should be leading by example on the issues of equity and inclusion. The legislature should set the bar for what is seen as right and just,” the LBC said. “By choosing to continue to block meaningful legislation from coming to the floor sends a crystal clear message that the Republican Leadership is not interested in making life better for all Wisconsinites.”