The battle being waged in Washington this weekend isn’t merely over a health care bill. Its context is much bigger: Who controls this country?
I don’t want to make too much of this. Millions of decent Americans are convinced, despite evidence to the contrary, that health care legislation will increase the federal deficit or raise their taxes or cut into their care. Reasonable people can and will disagree.
But then there are those Tea Party activists who want control of our government kept firmly in the hands of those who’ve controlled it since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Read “white folk.” They were yelling slurs, openly, offensively and obscenely in the streets of Washington yesterday.
Let’s be clear: Some of the venom spat at this administration and all it puts forward has roots not just in ideological difference but in racial (and racist) attitudes damped down for a half century.
Or as House Majority Whip James Clyburn told reporters, according to Salon’s Joan Walsh: “I heard people saying things today that I have not heard since March 15, 1960, when I was marching to try to get off the back of the bus.”
If you need further convincing that America is a long way from being a “post-racial society,” take a look at a few of the links here. It is an issue that this country, as it moves forward over the next three to four decades to becoming a “majority-minority” country, will only see heightened and must confront. Plenty of the Old White Boys won’t share power in this country without a bitter and ugly fight.
Freedom of speech dictates that we must hear the slurs and taunting again. It also demands that those who find overt racial and homophobic slurs unacceptable in the year 2010 speak out — loudly and frequently against them.
Here are some other news reports of yesterday’s events:
Tea Party protesters hurl racial insults at Georgia Rep. John Lewis
Democrats report that protest turns ugly and racist.
Rep. Barney Frank calls on Republicans to distance themselves from the Tea Party.