Leave it to highly controversial American radio commentator Rush Limbaugh to turn everything into a race issue. Legendary New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner passed from a heart attack at age 80 July 13, and while just about every media organization spent the entire day honoring his rich legacy, Limbaugh did what he’s most noted for: make offensive comments.
Only this time he didn’t direct any derogatory terms towards Black people alone. Surprisingly, he took a sarcastic jab at his own race, while suggesting that Steinbrenner is the reason why many Blacks athletes are rich today.
“George Steinbrenner, that cracker made a lot of African-Americans millionaires,” said Limbaugh on his daily radio talk show, as captured on a video posted on MSNBC.com. “Steinbrenner, the classic capitalist… Like most successful capitalists, he made the people around him wealthy. A lot of African-American millionaires along the way, and at the same time, he fired a bunch of white guys as managers left and right.”
Apparently, Limbaugh used the term “cracker” in a tongue-and-cheek tone, which may have been motivated by previous talks about the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case in Philadelphia.
According to reports, the Department of Justice charged New Black Panther Party members with voter intimidation because they were standing outside of voter polls on the presidential election date in 2008. Some members of the Panther Party, long known for its socialist roots, have been captured on videos giving speeches and using the term “cracker.” This perhaps led to Limbaugh sarcastically referring to Steinbrenner, a capitalist who paid millions to Black athletes, as a “cracker.”
But famous civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton told reporters that Limbaugh’s comments were “repugnant and offensive whether they were intended to be facetious or tongue and cheek.”
“For the last 20-years I have known George Steinbrenner and we have quarreled over diversity and community programs but I always found him fair, direct, and genuinely prone to do what he felt was right,” Sharpton said, as stated by the Associated Press. “He generated a lot of money for a lot of players as well as for baseball as a whole. Mr. Limbaugh and his broadcasters owe his family an apology.”