I haven’t posted for a bit, we were visited by three of our grandchildren last week, and the last two left yesterday. I must admit, getting back into the swing of things is proving difficult, not only because of missing the children, but also due to the state of the current health care debate, and where it seems to be headed.
“Hunter,” a blogger on DailyKos, wrote a brilliant post over the weekend that ties together most of the current right-wing, including the tea baggers, birthers and the deathers. Hunter makes the case that the “angry white men” protesting at Democratic town hall meetings are driven by racism, and he likens the tactics being used by the current protesters to those used in the fight against integration.
Talking about the three movements, Hunter writes:
“But these are not three disparate movements with three different practitioners, three different conspiracy theories that simply happen to share the same summertime stage. In practice and organization they are one movement, a single collection of the same set of animated citizens and televised leaders, and their signs decrying fascism, Naziism, communism, taxes, euthanasia and outrage over 1960’s-era Hawaiian government paperwork mingle freely at every protest. If you find a newly minted tax protestor, you are as likely as not to find a birther and a deather as well, all tucked neatly inside the same polo shirt. They are nearly exclusively white, predominantly middle aged and elderly, and unambiguously conservative. Many of those shouting against their government are already participants in the same “socialized medicine” they decry, but to a person will not consider their Medicare to be of that evil ilk.
It is, in short, a movement made up of the enfranchised and enabled; people who have gained every benefit from the politics of America and yet who feel in their very bones that they are the oppressed ones, the ones who have nothing left to lose, so rapidly is America falling away from them. It is rare to run across any movement so deeply angry — or more to the point, a movement which explicitly celebrates anger as the primary mission of their activism. They are not willing to listen to any factual evidence that contradicts their own beliefs in whatever dark conspiracies have been peddled to them; they have in fact made it their publicly proclaimed mission to block any such explanations from even being attempted.” (Emphasis mine)
The bolded sentence above could have been talking about fundamental Christianity itself, as it accurately describes those who insist on a worldview that includes young-earth creationism. In fact, if one looks at the demographics of these movements, they include those parts of the country deeply enmeshed in not only conservative thought but conservative religion as well.
The current movement embodies another of the characteristics of fundamental religion, and that is complete, utter certitude. They have been absolutely convinced by those they hold in authority that President Obama is leading us into socialism, fascism, communism or whatever the buzzword de jour happens to be, and being so convinced they cannot be deterred by facts, no matter how well presented. In fact, they are not even listening!
Hunter continues, contrasting current events with those in the 1960’s:
“It seems at first a bizarre thought, a mere freeform hiccup of the brain, but between a half-dozen different commentators I am apparently already far from the first to have it: it seems to me like the last time we saw public discourse be as intentionally devolved as it is today was during, of all things, American desegregation.
That was the last time you had deeply conservative southern governors and states yelling about secession because the federal government was forcing things on them that they couldn’t tolerate, and making belligerent anti-federalism statements over the slightest little thing.
That was the last time America so prominently saw, on television, shouting white mobs and the threats against lawmakers, all explicitly intended not at debate, but as efforts of pure intimidation in order to stop the debate from ever taking place.
That was when you had phalanxes of very dumb but very loud people weeping in front of the cameras that the fabric of America was being destroyed, though they couldn’t begin to actually tell you why or how, only that it involved black people rising above their place in the world and the subsequent corruption of their government.
That was when you had men with fervent political beliefs walking into “too-liberal” churches and murdering in cold blood those who they disagreed with.”
There was a rally in Wilmington, NC last week, not far from where I live, and although I was unable to attend with my grandchildren in town, some of my friends went, carrying signs supporting health care reform. One of my friends was pushed and shoved, his sign was ripped from his hands and destroyed. This is the American way?
One more bit from Hunter:
“We didn’t have a nationwide epidemic of people buying up weapons and ammunition under that terrible menace to the nation, Bill Clinton, though those years saw far more substantial gun legislation than anything any Democrat has proposed this decade. But when Barack Obama was elected, it started immediately, and continues to run full speed.
The last poll this site commissioned was startling. From a prominent and credible pollster, it showed beyond question how very explicitly racial the birther movement is, and it cannot help but raise questions of motive. Maybe this fight is a postmodern segregationist one after all, postmodern because it is not even about the thing it is purportedly about, but fought through weird three-times-removed proxy issues that even the participants themselves don’t really grasp and heaven knows have no actual information on.”
Although these people are in the distinct minority, they are still a large group, absolutely convinced of the “rightness” of their effort, with the certitude only the religious can muster, and worst of all, heavily armed. I remember what went on in the 60’s during integration, and unless the Republicans can start acting like a major political party instead of pandering to their regional base, I’m afraid that we are in for violence like we haven’t seen in this country in nearly fifty years.