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Apologize, Rush

It has been nearly a month since radio host Rush Limbaugh insulted the people of China and their leader, but still there has been no apology. In making fun of the speech Chinese President Hu Jintao made during a White House visit, Limbaugh offended more than a billion people, including millions of Chinese Americans. Politicians and community leaders have condemned his comments.

Among those incensed was state Assemblywoman Grace Meng.

“I want an apology at the very least,” she said. “Making fun of any country’s leader is just very disrespectful for someone who says he is a proud American. He was, in his own way, trying to attack the leader of another country, and that’s his prerogative as well, but at the same time he offended 13 percent of New York City’s population.”

Sounding more like a third-grader than a talk show host, Limbaugh imitated the way he thinks Chinese people sound: “Hu Jintao, he was speaking and they weren’t translating and they normally have some translator every couple of words, but Hu Jintao was just going, ‘Ching chong. Ching chong, chong chong!’”

Limbaugh complained that no one knew what Hu really said. He apparently forgot there are millions of people who heard the address, speak Chinese and know what he said.

The talk show commentator had every right to challenge the substance of Hu’s speech and to hold the leader’s feet to the fire for the human rights abuses that continue in China. But making fun of the way the Chinese language sounds is racist, juvenile and inexcusable.

Meng had reason to be offended. She has been joined in her protest by City Councilman Peter Koo and city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Since taking on Limbaugh, Meng has been the recipient of bigoted letters and phone calls. De Blasio said this “harassment demonstrates the inherent dangers intolerant speech like Mr. Limbaugh’s can let loose.”

Although Limbaugh has become the voice of the conservative movement, the outcry over his comments has nothing to do with politics. For the sake of his loyal listeners, Limbaugh should publicly apologize for his behavior. He should say it is never justifiable to mock people for the way they look or sound.

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