There’s nothing like the prospect of a black person receiving a government service to rile up the Republican base. Anyone who has spent extended time in the South, when listening to the Tea Partyers, has heard this ugly, racist dogwhistle. But with the possible passage of Romneycare–for people who aren’t white, too!–which apparently portends The Demise of Western Civilization As We Know It, all bets are off (italics mine):
Abusive, derogatory and even racist behavior directed at House Democrats by Tea Party protesters on Saturday left several lawmakers in shock.
Preceding the president’s speech to a gathering of House Democrats, thousands of protesters descended around the Capitol to protest the passage of health care reform. The gathering quickly turned into abusive heckling, as members of Congress passing through Longworth House office building were subjected to epithets and even mild physical abuse.
A staffer for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) had been spat on by a protestor. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called a ‘ni–er.’ And Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a “faggot,” as protestors shouted at him with deliberately lisp-y screams. Frank, approached in the halls after the president’s speech, shrugged off the incident.
But Clyburn was downright incredulous, saying he had not witnessed such treatment since he was leading civil rights protests in South Carolina in the 1960s.
“It was absolutely shocking to me,” Clyburn said, in response to a question from the Huffington Post. “Last Monday, this past Monday, I stayed home to meet on the campus of Claflin University where fifty years ago as of last Monday… I led the first demonstrations in South Carolina, the sit ins… And quite frankly I heard some things today I have not heard since that day. I heard people saying things that I have not heard since March 15, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus.”
“It doesn’t make me nervous as all,” the congressman said, when asked how the mob-like atmosphere made him feel. “In fact, as I said to one heckler, I am the hardest person in the world to intimidate, so they better go somewhere else.”
Asked if he wanted an apology from the group of Republican lawmakers who had addressed the crowd and, in many ways, played on their worst fears of health care legislation, the Democratic Party, and the president, Clyburn replied:
“A lot of us have been saying for a long time that much of this, much of this is not about health care a all. And I think a lot of those people today demonstrated that this is not about health care… it is about trying to extend a basic fundamental right to people who are less powerful.“
Meanwhile, in the trenches, here is some of the high-minded rhetoric that’s making its way around:
In addition to the scare letter, he [her boss] has also verbally and repeatedly railed to his employees against all the “ignorant NEEEEGROES” who would get a free health care ride with this bill. According to him, the vast majority of people who need health insurance should just get a job and pay for their own, not mooch off of him. “They’re not even trying to find work, much less work hard.” (This after he himself has had to fire people because the economy has cut down on his business. Where does he think people are going to FIND jobs in in this state, in these times?).
As I’ve said before, not that all Republicans and conservatives are bigots. But Republicans and conservatives need these hatemongering scum in order to win elections and push their political agenda. They would rather hold political power than heal the festering sore of racism. Clyburn is absolutely right, in that much of the opposition has nothing to do policy at all. I’ll give the last word to Digby:
I have it good authority that there’s a lot of this coming over the phone lines too, “nigger” being the preferred epithet. At the end of the day, plain old bigotry and racism is what this frothing frenzy against health care is all about….
This is not a spontaneous uprising of disaffected citizens who are angry about bailouts. This is the base of the modern Republican party, same as it ever was.