Rush Lashes Out at Another Accomplished Young Woman

Tracie McMillanBart Nagel

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Undaunted by the fiasco of his misogynist diatribe against Sandra Fluke, Rush Limbaugh has aimed his rhetorical bile at another accomplished young woman (via Lindsay Beyerstein). This time his target is an acquaintance of mine: Tracie McMillan, author of the new book The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebees, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table.

By Limbaughian standards, the anti-McMillan tirade was tepid and banal; he didn’t use the word “slut” or demand sex tapes. Yet it drips with the woman-hating idiocy that has become central to the Limbaugh brand. From the the show’s transcript, here’s the money bit (the rest is running commentary on the recent New York Times review of MacMillan’s book, in which a barely coherent Rush seems to be waxing paranoid about an impending government takeover of the food system):

What is it with all of these young single white women, overeducated—doesn’t mean intelligent. For example, Tracie McMillan, the author of this book, seems to be just out of college and already she has been showered with awards, including the 2006 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Social justice journalism. This woman who wrote the book on food inequality, food justice, got an award for social justice journalism. She has a B.A. from New York University in political science. She’s a political scientist. She’s a journalist. She has received awards for social justice journalism, and she has a book out on food justice.

It’s comically easy to sort out this tangle of non-sequiturs. Literally, he’s accusing McMillan of having a college degree and a successful journalism career with a focus on social justice. Subtextually, Rush is implying that a single women who get a B.A.s have simply attained too much education, are unqualified to write books or conduct journalism in any topic unrelated to their college major, and have no business receiving awards. If only Tracie had gone straight from high school to housewifery, and preferably without resorting to birth control!

Over on Forbes.com, Jeffrey Bercovici caught up with McMillan on the road promoting her book to get her reaction. She responds to the old windbag’s absurd attack with aplomb.

I grew up listening to Rush Limbaugh and we actually watched his talk show in my high school [back when it was televised] for a class on current events. So I’m familiar with the politics. I certainly don’t think they’re foreign or alien or weird …. I just wasn’t expecting anybody to say flat out that my work wasn’t valid because I’m a single woman. … I only have a B.A. I don’t have an advanced degree … Maybe he thinks women shouldn’t go to college at all?

I’m relieved Rush’s attack on Tracie didn’t sink as deeply into the swamps of right-wing imbecility as did the one against Fluke. And I hope the flap caused by his outburst means more people will read The American Way of Eating, because it is a damn good book.

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