Saturday, March 27, 2010

Civil Discourse: Part 2

On Thursday I commented on the delicate position the Republicans found themselves in, having to keep their fringes fired up enough to vote in November but not so fired up that the rest of the country turned away in disgust. I was too kind insofar as I believed that no political party would actually stoop to racist hatred to get elected in these more enlightened times. I obviously still haven't stamped out my naivete.

Derrick Z. Jackson, a columnist for the Boston Globe, has convinced me that not only am I naive, but also that I was just wrong in giving Republicans the benefit of the doubt as he examines the fallout from the health care reform votes. Here's some of what he had to say in his latest offering titled "Hatred as a Political Strategy":

It was Armageddon all right, a battle between selfishness and sharing. Some Americans who believe health care reform represents a heist of “their’’ resources for the undeserving betrayed their underlying feelings as Democratic congressmen were either called the N word or spat upon, a Latino congressman was called a “wetback,’’ and Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank, who is gay, was called the F word.

No Republican had the courage to remind the rabid that America, at other great crossroads, did put government into their lives. The wealth of countless white middle class families today stems from World War II veteran housing bills that too often, we conveniently forget, discriminated against black veterans along with housing segregation. Surely, more than one tea partier has Medicare or uses a VA hospital. Yet most Republicans do anything they can to deflect responsibility for the frenzy. ...

One cannot forget how, in a last gasp before Obama’s election, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said of Obama, “I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America as you and I do.’’ One cannot forget the level of disrespect shown to Obama in the “You lie!’’ outburst by South Carolina Republican Representative Joe Wilson. Wilson has been rewarded for his outburst with the most campaign contributions of anyone in the House, $3.4 million in the 2010 election cycle.

In the final stages of the health care debate, Palin and other Republican leaders resorted to telling their masses to “reload’’ or get ready for the “firing line’’ in November. Republican Congressman Randy Neugebauer had to apologize for shouting “baby killer’’ when anti-abortion Democrat Bart Stupak of Michigan gave his support for the health care bill. The Republicans need to find someone with courage to disarm the rhetoric, before someone reloads for real.
[Emphasis added]

When Republican members of Congress and former candidates themselves engage in the violent rhetoric, thereby validating what stands behind the rhetoric (a racist call to action against those who aren't "true-blue Americans"), and then turn around and blame the Democrats for inciting the acts of violence as Newt Gingrich did, then that party is doing more than just patting the tightie-rightie outliers on the head. It is calling for internecine war, the shooting kind.

I don't think a second civil war will have any winners. Instead, the nation will be irretrievably shattered and the Great Experiment will have failed.

Heckuva job, GOP.



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