Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh said on “Fox News Sunday” that the “real outrage” in the death of Eric Garner in New York City is that an American died while the state was enforcing tax collection on cigarettes.
“I think the real outrage here is that an American died while the state is enforcing tax collection on cigarettes. This is just absurd,” said Limbaugh. “And it — you know, people talk about the left, they want a big state, they want a powerful state. Well, here it is. You’ve got to take all of it,” Limbaugh said.
“If you want a powerful state, there’s your police force acting on demands of the authorities to go out and make sure that every dime of tax is collected particularly from tobacco. Look how we stigmatize tobacco,” he added.
“What was Eric Garner doing? He was selling cigarettes, loose cigarettes, and the police in New York – because they’re so eager for tax collection, what is being done here with regard to taxes and the state’s desire to collect them no matter what, how many cops were descended on that situation for cigarettes?” Limbaugh asked.
“How many people smoking marijuana did the cops pass by and ignore on the way to Eric Garner? You’ve got $13 a carton, $13 a pack in New York City, over $6 of that is taxes. And the authorities are telling the cops, you go out and you stop that, because they’re so intent on collecting tax revenue,” he said.
Wallace asked for Limbaugh’s opinion on the “perception of unfairness in the criminal justice system” that critics and some demonstrators cite – “for instance, that black drivers who are stopped” are “three times likely to be searched as white drivers.”
“I don’t think that things are rosy and perfect in America, but to say that they’re no better, as the mayor of New York said, that’s absurd. We’ve made all kinds of efforts to improve race relations in this country. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, affirmative action, we have bent over backwards,” Limbaugh said.
“Is it all perfect? No, it’s not. But there’s no acknowledgment of any progress, Chris. If you listen to these people, the president, the mayor of New York, you would think it’s 200 years ago. You would think we haven’t even started working on these problems, and that’s not true,” he said.
Limbaugh also disputed the notion that police placed Garner in a chokehold before he died, despite video footage of the incident leading up to Garner’s death.
“You now say that he was not choked, it was not a chokehold. And I guess the question I have, and I ask this with all due respect, we’re friends — what are you talking about that it’s not a chokehold?” host Chris Wallace asked.
“I’m listening to experts in the police departments around the country that I know tell me it’s not a chokehold. I’m listening to certain things I’ve read in the media quoting police officials and those who train police saying that this was not a chokehold. It might have been carotid restriction, but it was not a chokehold,” Limbaugh said.