Rush Limbaugh On-Air Slur Leaves Italian-American Group Seeking Formal Apology

An Italian-American advocacy group is slamming Rush Limbaugh for making an on-air ethnic slur in December, now demanding that the conservative talk show host issue an apology.

The Italian American One Voice Coalition, a national group dedicated to ending bias against Italian Americans, issued a statement Tuesday morning taking issue with Limbaugh's calling former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine's hair an "Italian grease ball" during Corzine's December appearance before a congressional committee. Limbaugh's statement -- published on his website -- came as part of a discussion of Corzine's appearance in relation to the collapse of MF Global, the investment firm he headed.

According to the transcript, Limbaugh said:

Well, no, not to me because I know he's not, so he doesn't look more honest. The rule of thumb for television is that curly hair is bad. I know. I was in TV. I haven't been burdened with the problem of curly hair. Corzine has curly hair. Corzine's the kind of guy that never has to wash it; you can't tell the difference when he does. He never has to brush it or comb it, you can't tell the difference when he does. That's why this stands out. I mean, he's got Italian grease ball, whatever, sixteen. He's lathered it on there; he's slicked it back. He's probably got a souped'up '57 Chevy outside waiting for him to drive him away.

Earlier in the transcript Limbaugh twice used the term "grease ball" regarding Corzine's hair.

IAOVC President Andre DiMino sent Limbaugh a letter asking that the radio show host apologize for the slur. He said that he is asking the organization's members to contact Limbaugh to demand a retraction of the comments. DiMino is also the president of national Italian-American group UNICO.

"Although we have been barraged with such stereotyping and denigration in the entertainment media, we certainly did not expect to have it hurled upon us by someone in your position," DiMino wrote. "Your comment was a disgrace and you should IMMEDIATELY apologize to ALL Italian Americans for your insensitivity and insult! You would not have made such a blatant, demeaning and pejorative comment about any other ethnic or racial group. Mr. Limbaugh, we ask for that same sensitivity."

According to IAVOC spokesman Sebastian D'Elia, the organization has several thousand members nationally, as well as members in Canada and Puerto Rico. He said the group has previously organized its members to stop Italian-American bias. While Limbaugh made the comment in December, D'Elia said the group did not become aware of it until finding the transcript online this week.

The IAVOC has had a tumultuous relationship with Corzine, dating back to his 2000 U.S. Senate campaign, where they said Corzine made several comments disparaging Italian Americans during meetings with the some of the community's leaders. At the time, Corzine was locked in a heated Democratic primary battle with former Gov. Jim Florio.

Last year, Stephen Colbert pointed out that Limbaugh had made insensitive comments regarding Chinese Americans prior to the president of China's state visit to the United States.