Fear Strikes Out
By Paul Krugman
Instead, the emotional core of opposition to reform was blatant fear-mongering, unconstrained either by the facts or by any sense of decency.
It wasn’t just the death panel smear. It was racial hate-mongering, like a piece in Investor’s Business Daily declaring that health reform is “affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color.” It was wild claims about abortion funding. It was the insistence that there is something tyrannical about giving young working Americans the assurance that health care will be available when they need it, an assurance that older Americans have enjoyed ever since Lyndon Johnson—whom Mr. Gingrich considers a failed president—pushed Medicare through over the howls of conservatives.
And let’s be clear: the campaign of fear hasn’t been carried out by a radical fringe, unconnected to the Republican establishment. On the contrary, that establishment has been involved and approving all the way. Politicians like Sarah Palin—who was, let us remember, the G.O.P.’s vice-presidential candidate—eagerly spread the death panel lie, and supposedly reasonable, moderate politicians like Senator Chuck Grassley refused to say that it was untrue. On the eve of the big vote, Republican members of Congress warned that “freedom dies a little bit today” and accused Democrats of “totalitarian tactics,” which I believe means the process known as “voting.”
By Bob Herbert
Another threw money at the man, first one bill and then another, and said contemptuously, “I’ll pay for this guy. Here you go. Start a pot.”
In Washington on Saturday, opponents of the health care legislation spit on a black congressman and shouted racial slurs at two others, including John Lewis, one of the great heroes of the civil rights movement. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was taunted because he is gay.
At some point, we have to decide as a country that we just can’t have this: We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress—epithets that The Times will not allow me to repeat here.
It is 2010, which means it is way past time for decent Americans to rise up against this kind of garbage, to fight it aggressively wherever it appears. And it is time for every American of good will to hold the Republican Party accountable for its role in tolerating, shielding and encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest supporters.
For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness. All you have to do is look around to see what it has done to the country. The greatest economic inequality since the Gilded Age was followed by a near-total collapse of the overall economy. As a country, we have a monumental mess on our hands and still the Republicans have nothing to offer in the way of a remedy except more tax cuts for the rich.
This is the party of trickle down and weapons of mass destruction, the party of birthers and death-panel lunatics. This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry.
The toxic clouds that are the inevitable result of the fear and the bitter conflicts so relentlessly stoked by the Republican Party—think blacks against whites, gays versus straights, and a whole range of folks against immigrants—tend to obscure the tremendous damage that the party’s policies have inflicted on the country. If people are arguing over immigrants or abortion or whether gays should be allowed to marry, they’re not calling the G.O.P. to account for (to take just one example) the horribly destructive policy of cutting taxes while the nation was fighting two wars.
If you’re all fired up about Republican-inspired tales of Democrats planning to send grandma to some death chamber, you’ll never get to the G.O.P.’s war against the right of ordinary workers to organize and negotiate in their own best interests—a war that has diminished living standards for working people for decades.
Clyburn Says Noose Depiction Faxed To His Office After HCR Vote
Stupak Receives Threatening Fax With Drawing Of Noose
Pajamas Media Editor: Let's Bring Back Tar And Feathering--And Maybe More
When Right-Wing Extremism Moves Mainstream
"I think it's very clear that you see ideas coming out of all kinds of sectors of the radical right, from the immigrant radical right, from the so-called Patriot groups, the militias and so on—and you see it spreading right across the landscape at some of these Tea Party events," he says. "I think it's worth saying that much of this is aided and abetted by ostensibly mainstream politicians and media members."
Part of the issue, Potok says, is not what politicians say—but what they leave unsaid.
"I think a lot of these ideas start on the radical right, but they are also being flogged endlessly by Republican officials," he says. "Even those who are sort of considered [to be] responsible Republicans have completely abstained from any kind of criticism of this talk. So even way back when, when Sarah Palin was talking about Obama setting up death panels and so on—what we heard was a deafening silence from the mainstream of the Republican Party."
A new poll from Harris interactive finds that 40 percent of American adults think that Obama is a socialist; 25 percent believe that Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore not eligible to be president; 20 percent say Obama is doing many of the things that Hitler did; 14 percent say Obama "may be the Antichrist."
"I hear a very scary situation developing," says Potok. "The idea that people really have swallowed these stories in such enormous numbers is something remarkable. I covered, as a reporter, the militia movement in the 1990s, which really produced an extraordinary amount of criminal violence. And even back then, you did not hear this kind of talk so broadly spread through this society."
By Josh Marshall
No one who is even remotely honest can pretend that anything about this is bipartisan in character. The Right and yes the national Republican party has been stirring this pot for months. We all see this. Cantor's behavior is shameful beyond imagining. It's time for a truth moment for the national Republican party. Incitement matters. They have to take responsibility for what they've done: which is nothing less than a campaign of incitement for which they're now unwilling to take any responsibility.
By Melissa Harris-Lacewell
I appreciate the parallels to the civil rights movement drawn by the MSNBC crowd, but they are inadequate. When protesters spit on and scream at duly elected representatives of the United States government it is more than act of racism. It is an act of sedition.
There are historic lessons to be learned. But they are the lessons of the 19th century not the 20th. We must now guard against the end of our new Reconstruction and the descent of a vicious new Jim Crow terrorism.
That's the not-so-subtle message behind every conflict over race and stereotyping: Kesha's performance, the Chasco Indian wannabes, the conservative revisions to school textbooks. "We won the country and rule the country, so we can do anything we want. If we choose to mock Indians to prove our social superiority, you can't stop us. If you dare to challenge our authority, we'll make you suffer for it."
For more on the subject, see Klansmen, Militias, and Teabaggers and Teabaggers Want Doddering White Guy. For a historical overview of the subject, see Klansmen, Neo-Nazis, and Christian Patriots.
Below: Video of the teabaggers' verbal assault on the Parkinson's patient. Although he isn't a minority, he is disadvantaged, which is the same idea.
The final words of this video make it crystal-clear what the teabaggers are thinking. Not "this bill is the wrong way to improve our healthcare system" or "higher taxes are a drag on our economy." "No more handouts!!" (to poor, lazy, dark-skinned, not-quite-real Americans) could be the Tea Party's slogan.