I don't want to give Mr. Rush Limbaugh more credit, time or attention than he already garners, but this week he is my example of Fear-Based Leadership. He also gives me an opportunity to show a positive example of when and where capitalism and free enterprise works for all.
Let's put aside the unhidden racial undertones surrounding Mr. Limbaugh's selection of a young black women, in college no doubt, and calling her out as a "slut," simply because she had a view different from his own.
Let's put aside the simultaneous slap in the face Mr. Limbaugh delivered in one movement to a great majority of women in this country who consider their decisions and views, about their body and their God, important too.
Let's put aside that Mr. Limbaugh is somehow able to spread this hate, anger and fear-based leadership in the mainstream of American society.
Mr. Limbaugh's comments — no his slur of a decent human being, and in the 21st century no less — demeaned us all.
It speaks to the decaying of virtues and values in our society, and the erosion of basic decency in our public discourse.
In short, while we know that some people say these things in private, most Americans and citizens around the world are stunned (and like me embarrassed) to hear a so-called celebrity spew this hatred and fear in a credible public space. And for a moment at least, seemingly geting away with it also. No more.
On Friday, the system of capitalism and free enterprise that so many have derided since 2008, spoke up and actually stood up for the basic decency embedded in America's real freedom, and her voice, when 6 corporate sponsors pulled their support of and from the Rush Limbaugh show. Miraculously, as a result of this corporate action, Mr. Limbaugh then issued a public apology, when a day earlier he only suggested maybe he had not said "slut" clearly enough.
All this said, I know the people who run Clear Channel and Premiere Radio Networks, and know them to be good and decent people. It is a business, and part of their business is entertainment. My guess is they run the Limbaugh show because, well, it is profitable. Not because they endorse what he says and does. They are responding to marketplace demands. I am sure they heard loud and clear what advertisers had to say about Mr. Limbaugh this time, but it would also be nice if they (Clear Channel and Premiere Radio) heard from us what we would likewise support "in place of" Mr. Limbaugh.
We cannot simply become experts in what we are against (in many ways, that is not much better than what a Fear-Based Leader does), we must make it clear "what we are for," and then make that thing as profitable, advantage and sustainable for a Clear Channel and a Premiere Radio Network, as the Fear–Based alternatives that already are (profitable).
The marketplace is a reflection of us. We have changed it before (and I am not talking about 6 advertisers last week), and we can make this positive change again. We can show corporate America how they can do well and do good, and ultimately do well by doing good. We can show them best, by doing that, and reflecting that, ourselves.
As for Mr. Limbaugh, I support his right to and for free speech, which allows him to say basically what he likes. That said, Mr. Limbaugh is about to learn that irresponsible free speech, is not really free. In fact, it is quite expensive. Next.
Onward and with HOPE,
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass) the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Under-Served and Community Empowerment for the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S. He is also a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum.