Why did Rush Limbaugh defend Joseph Kony and Lord's Resistance Army?

Rush Limbaugh criticized Obama last October for sending US troops to kill Joseph Kony's 'Christian' fighters. When apprised by listeners of the LRA's record, he expressed surprise.

Chris Carlson/AP/File
Last year, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, shown here in 2010, criticized President Obama's decision to send 100 elite US troops to kill or capture Joseph Kony, a Ugandan rebel leader whose guerilla group, the Lord's Resistance Army, has been accused of widespread human rights violations.

Last October, Rush Limbaugh on his radio show defended Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, the Uganda guerilla group that is now infamous around the world thanks to a viral video from the Invisible Children organization that has exposed Kony’s cruel and murderous ways.

Why in the world would Limbaugh do that? One reason is that he was not so much promoting the LRA as questioning the Obama administration’s decision to send 100 elite US troops to the area to help quell fighting.

“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,” Limbaugh said last Oct. 14, according to a show transcript.

Limbaugh then went on to read from what he said were the group’s self-described objectives, which included “to remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people.”

“Those are the objectives of the group that we are fighting,” said Limbaugh, implying that the US had taken the wrong side in the battle.

What Limbaugh did not say was that the list of LRA objectives appeared to have come straight off Wikipedia, according to a contemporaneous New York Times account. Nor did Limbaugh mention that for years the group had been widely accused of torture, murder, looting, and wanton destruction.

Perhaps the other major reason Limbaugh made this faux pas was that he was just talking too fast about stuff of which he knew little. Today over 50 million people have seen the Invisible Children video, which documents such LRA abuses as its kidnapping of children for use as soldiers. But Limbaugh’s discussion of the group occurred long before it became so well known.

In fact, as his broadcast progressed last October, Limbaugh obviously began receiving reports from listeners of the LRA’s real nature.

Near the end of the show he said, “Is that right? The Lord’s Resistance Army is being accused of really bad 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.”

At the time, the broadcast created an uproar among those who knew of the LRA’s actions. The next day conservative Sen. James Inhofe (R) of Oklahoma went on the Senate floor to set the record straight, noting that Joseph Kony was in no way a Christian, and that he had been disavowed by the Ugandan Catholic Church.

“I stand behind the president in his decision ... Josephy Kony and the LRA are responsible for one of the longest, most violent, and costly conflicts ever on the continent of Africa,” Senator Inhofe said.

Even Stephen Colbert took after Limbaugh for his maladroit move. On his Oct. 19 Colbert Report, the comedian picked up on the talk show host’s “due diligence” comment, saying, “Of course due diligence always comes after accusing the president of killing Christians.”

“That’s why it’s called re-search,” said Colbert, drawing out the last word. “If you do it before, it’s called pre-search.”

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