The LRA are Christians. Or so said Rush Limbaugh on his October 14th show:
"Now, up until today, most Americans have never heard of the combat Lord's Resistance Army. And here we are at war with them. Have you ever heard of Lord's Resistance Army, Dawn? How about you, Brian? […] You never heard of Lord's Resistance Army? Well, proves my contention, most Americans have never heard of it, and here we are at war with them. Lord's Resistance Army are Christians. It means God. […] Lord's Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them. […] Lord's Resistance Army objectives. I have them here. […]
'To remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people; to fight for the immediate restoration of the competitive multiparty democracy in Uganda; to see an end to gross violation of human rights and dignity of Ugandans; to ensure the restoration of peace and security in Uganda, to ensure unity, sovereignty, and economic prosperity beneficial to all Ugandans, and to bring to an end the repressive policy of deliberate marginalization of groups of people who may not agree with the LRA ideology.'
Those are the objectives of the group that we are fighting, or who are being fought and we are joining in the effort to remove them from the battlefield."
This recent Huffington Post article details Mr. Limbaugh’s factual errors in his description of the LRA and its activities. I will not rehash here his blatant inaccuracies. Rather, I would like to give voice to the utter disregard for human life Mr. Limbaugh displays through his celebrated ignorance and his political polemics.
First of all, Mr. Limbaugh seems to celebrate the ignorance of himself, his colleagues and the “American people” (though he may be thinking of somewhat of a skewed sample within this third category). On the basis of this ignorance, Mr. Limbaugh implies that the predominantly Congolese and Sudanese people the U.S. would be protecting are unworthy of this protection. After all, if I, a privileged American, have never heard of these people and their problems, then they might as well not exist.
Further, it strikes me as somewhat sadistic and irreverent that someone could be so attached to his political view as to celebrate a known terrorist group. Certainly Mr. Limbaugh claimed ignorance and, if one is so insular that he or she has no use for international politics, then perhaps it is possible for a person to know nothing of the LRA.
Yet in addition to the ethical problems posed by this myopic worldview, I would expect more from Mr. Limbaugh. Either his own research is so inept that he, a regular political commentator, has not once run across the civil war in Uganda in any of his previous work, or the emphasized ignorance of himself and his colleagues was mere political rhetoric, a ploy to make Obama look the fool for sending U.S. troops to fight an unknown band of Christian political freedom fighters (if you know anything about the LRA, this description is far from the truth and the “stated objectives” cited by Mr. Limbaugh are simply laughable).
He is certainly either way discredited, though to me the second is the more plausible conclusion. Mr. Limbaugh is no idiot, though he is, in my opinion, a generally icky person. If I am indeed correct, then Mr. Limbaugh just knowingly prioritized his polemics against President Obama over the inhuman violence the LRA has committed against Ugandans, and particularly against children. Can U.S. political rhetoric become any more soulless?
Let’s now ground ourselves a bit. CNN.com recently ran an article about Evelyn, a 22-year-old girl who as a child was abducted and tortured by the LRA. She was forced to march through the woods for long hours without food and water; one day during an air raid a piece of shrapnel ripped through her body and tore a hole in her face.
The LRA decided not to kill her in spite of her gross injuries, though she was still required to make grueling marches, her wounds infected and unable to eat solid food. Evelyn managed to escape via a dangerous sprint to safety through the forest and was enrolled in a rehabilitation center. She was fortunate enough to receive financial support through a fellowship program, which is providing her with reconstructive surgery in the United States. Imagine the thousands of abducted children who have not been so fortunate.
After the October 14th show aired, Evelyn sent a very simple message to Mr. Limbaugh: “My name is Evelyn. I am a former abducted child. My heart breaks when I hear your message about the LRA."
I join in solidarity with Evelyn:
Dear Mr. Limbaugh,
Please stop celebrating the ignorance of gross human rights abuses. Please stop caring more about Second Amendment rights and taxes on wealthy Americans than victims of unspeakable injustice. And please, oh please, do not silence the stories of those victims by skewing the truth for political gain.
Sara is a student at Yale Divinity School, where she is working toward a Master of Religious Studies with a concentration in ethics. Her research interest lies broadly in the role of faith communities in religiously charged conflicts and more particularly in the conversation between American evangelical and postliberal theologies as it relates to the construction of an evangelical ethic for interreligious engagement.