The Racism of Health Reform Hate

The Republican leadership was quick to apologize Saturday for racist and anti-gay comments made by some citizens against Democrats who supported the health care bill.

Anti-reform demonstrators at the nation’s capitol yelled racial slurs against Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who had marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and two other congressmen. One demonstrator spit at Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.). Several protestors yelled anti-gay slurs at Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) “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,” Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters at the Capitol. 

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) told CNN the attacks were “contemptible.” Eric Cantor (R-Va.,) told ABC-TV that “nobody condones that at all.” John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Republicans’ House minority leader, called the incidents “reprehensible.” But he then said that the incidents were isolated and that the real issue was that “millions of Americans want no part” of health insurance reform. 

 But the racism, bigotry, and homophobia although “contemptible” and “reprehensible” were not “isolated.” They were heard from crowds who attended Sarah Palin rallies during the campaign of 2008, although John McCain specifically condemned them, and Palin only smiled. They were heard at most “tea party” rallies. They were heard at almost every anti-health care rally for more than a year.

It is true that most of the crowd didn’t resort to venomous hatred, but enough did to make it not isolated incidents of a political party that seems to have long since given up the notion of the “big tent” philosophy of inclusion, and to embarrass Republican leaders who had to issue apologies. 

 In contrast, voices of bigotry have not been heard at rallies of those who support health care reform. Perhaps, the health care bill needs one quick amendment—psychiatric care for all Americans, especially those who have sold out any principles they may have had by exposing their sputtering venomous hatred for anyone who doesn’t look, act, or think like they do.

Walter Brasch, during a 40-year work career in mass communications, has been a member of several unions, in both the private and public sectors. He is a syndicated newspaper columnist and the author of 16 books, including With Just Cause: Unionization of the American Journalist, Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, and his latest Fracking Pennsylvania. He can be contacted at: Read other articles by Walter, or visit Walter's website.

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  1. beverly said on March 26th, 2010 at 7:10pm #

    Once again, left leaning pundits are focusing on the distractions of racism and bigotry when the bigger issue is the will of and best interests of the people are being ignored by a corrupt, co-opted two-party dictatorship.

    Despite a media and political blackout, polls have indicated people are in favor of a single payer health care system. Regardless, the wishes of the people were ignored by the president and Congress. Even the sham public option was toast by the time the bill got to the floor for a vote. Polls show voters from both parties want us out of Afghanistan and Iraq but the occupation continues in Iraq and increases tenfold in Afghanistan. Few polls showed much public support for the bankster bailout but no one in Washington gave a damn about what the public wanted – again.

    John Lewis may have marched with MLK but apparently none of King’s values and dogged determination to fight for what’s right rubbed off on him. Lewis, along with the rest of the black misleadership cabal, “got theirs ,” thanks to the efforts of MLK and have done nothing but rest on his laurels ever since. To quote wardrobe malfunctioning Janet Jackson, “What have you done for me lately?” Answer: not a goddamn thing. Lewis and most of the Congressional Black Caucus have warmed seats in Congress for 30 years or more but lack the clout (and guts) to affect any legislation that will significantly benefit blacks or citizens of any racial category.

    Barney Frank is a big fat windbag. He talks a good game but when the game is on the line he punts and lets the other team win. Frank dropped key provisions from the proposal to establish an indy Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Instead of standing firm for consumers battered by Wall Street, Frank caved in to bankers’ wish for lax regulations. Check out any interview concerning health care and Frank will mouth all the right words – but I’m sure he had no problem voting yea for the disastrous health care bill just passsed.

    While the bigots are hurling slurs, left leaners need to be just as vociferous and vehement calling out feckless sellouts like Lewis, Cleaver, Frank, & Co.

    Financial “terrorists’ on Wall Street and their civil liberties violating/Constitution shredding politician stooges will do us in long before the racist/bigot contingent ever will.

  2. Deadbeat said on March 27th, 2010 at 1:59am #

    Liberals are wimps. The only way Liberal grow a spine is in the specter of RADICALISM. Without radicals you can’t have liberalism.

  3. bozh said on March 27th, 2010 at 8:16am #

    We can also say it thusly: some dems-liberals-progressives-repubs are tad left of hitler and some are mms to the right of pinochet, churchill, franco.
    And most of them are partly made by education and partly by nature. On the other hand, the 97% of their followers are mostly man made.

    So, with 250 mn fascist americans, we can expect only more fascism! More wars, less earnings for majority of them, etc.
    Of course, we don’t know what those mountains and steppes in asia are hiding.
    But if thar be much gold in those hills and titanium, molibdenum, iron, nickel, gas oil in the valleys, the wages in america might even rise once again; at least for some while.
    So, the 97% are not as stupid as we thought? mea culpa! tnx