We’ve all heard the saying that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” In Rush Limbaugh’s case that’s just put him in bed with some rather unsavory characters.
The characters in question are the Lord’s Resistance Army - a notorious gang of child abductors, rapists, mutilators, thieves and murderers who have marauded across Africa’s “Great Lakes Region” for more than 20 years. President Bush declared them a terrorist organization in 2001, and the U.S. has ramped up its efforts to help African governments battle the group ever since then.
However, now that President Obama has committed 100 combat advisers to the region to help finish them off, the right wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh has suddenly discovered these murderers are in fact princes among men.
On Friday afternoon, shortly after Obama notified Congress that he had dispatched the combat-ready troops to Uganda to kick off operations, Limbaugh conducted a mini-straw poll among his listeners:
“Now, up until today, most Americans have never heard of the 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? Snerdley, have you? 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. I was only kidding. Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan.”
What was presumably Limbaugh’s rather quick Googling of the group doesn’t appear to have paid off. Although the “Lord” they worship is nominally the Christian god, they have a rather funny way of expressing that worship. Torture, child brides, and rape don’t tend to fit into the Christian sacraments these days. But they’re still very much in the mix for the LRA.
Furthermore, they’re not really an anti-Muslim force, as such; they’ll take all comers. Though they’ve been operative in Southern Sudan, that partly seems to be because the government there is often accused of offering them safe haven and even assistance, as it tries to destabilize its neighbor.
So, not really Christian, and not really anti-Muslim either. But Rush was on a roll. The next thing his hasty internet search uncovered was a list of the group’s “objectives”:
“I have them here. “To remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people.” Now, again Lord’s Resistance Army is who Obama sent troops to help nations wipe out. The objectives of the Lord’s Resistance Army, what they’re trying to accomplish with their military action in these countries is the following: “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 L.R.A. ideology.” Those are the objectives of the group that we are fighting.”
Slightly later in the show, Rush seemed to discover things weren’t exactly as they appeared:
“Is that right? The Lord’s Resistance Army is being accused of really bad stuff? Child kidnapping, torture, murder, that kind of stuff? Well, we just found out about this today. We’re gonna do, of course, our due diligence research on it. But nevertheless we got a hundred troops being sent over there to fight these guys — and they claim to be Christians.”
Even with that late discovery, Limbaugh still gave the transcript of his show the title, “Obama Invades Uganda; Targets Christians.”
This was too much even for Erick Ericksson, the right-wing founder of the website RedState. In a post called, “The President Is Not Going to Africa To Kill Christians” he leaped to Obama’s defense.
“It is ridiculous that I’m even having to write about this, but I am. In the past 72 hours, I have gotten lots of emails from lots of people who should know better asking me if I’ve heard about Barack Obama sending American troops to Africa to go after the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The people hearing the name assume it is a Christian group fighting radical Islamists in the Sudan or some such. It is no such thing.”