Unbelievable Totally believable:
Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) claimed Saturday that health care protesters at the Capitol directed racial epithets at Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) as he walked outside.
Carson, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus along with Lewis, told The Hill that protesters called Lewis the N-word.
Tea Party protesters held a rally outside the Capitol on Saturday, which included speeches by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and actor Jon Voight, and then proceeded into the halls to lobby members at the 11th hour.
Rep. Barney Frank got an uglier version of the treatment. Just after Frank rounded a corner to leave the building, an older protestor yelled “Barney, you f****t.” The surrounding crowd of protestors then erupted in laughter.
I can remember last fall, when Keith Olbermann had Janeane Garofalo on his show, and she said that much of the opposition to any and everything Obama tried to do was “flat out redneck racism.” She took a ton of heat for that comment from the wingnuts – and even “serious” commentators called it a bridge too far, since Keith had been talking about policy details at the time. I admit even I thought it sounded jarring and out of context, since there were no incidents mentioned at the time of overt racism.
But Janeane was right, and it only took the increasing likelihood of passage of the health care reform bill tomorrow to bring out the true character of the teabaggers. I’ve had two separate teabaggers on Twitter assume I was gay based on nothing more than my picture — and make disparaging remarks about it, like that was a bad thing. And of course there have been the recurring stories about the posters seen or photographed at various teabagger events, with Obama as a jungle witch-doctor with a bone through his nose, etc. But most people who’ve been interested in politics and have an overall tolerant attitude know that it can bring out the fringe, and that that fringe is usually a very tiny minority who do not represent the views of anyone outside of themselves and a small group of similarly-twisted compatriots.
I don’t believe that anymore.
There have simply been too many stories, too many photographs, too much nastiness of a sort that has nothing whatsoever to do with health care policy details. The kind of hatred on display yesterday goes much deeper – and is much older – than simple policy disagreement. When you take the time to make multiple copies of a sign like this one, and bring it to a public political rally and proudly display it, it’s not just an overreaction or a momentary slip of the tongue or a “poor choice of words.” It’s what you really think:
It’s what they really think: the teabagger movement. They are not about “stopping socialism.” Hell, many if not most of them can’t even correctly define socialism. It’s about the other oft-voiced sentiment you hear at their rallies and town halls at which they abuse elected representatives: they want their country back; and by that, they mean, the country they believe they once owned, when people like them were in the unquestioned majority and didn’t have to suffer much the bleatings of lesser races and groups. They are, as Janeane Garofalo put it so bluntly and accurately all those months ago – stone cold bigots. Terrified, violently angry, reactionary bigots. Period. And if there are still those who count themselves among that crowd who believe that’s an unfair characterization, who feel themselves to be in alignment with the purported political ideas of the teabagger movement but not with the violent, xenophobic, fearful and bigoted tone that characterizes virtually all of their events, then it is up to them – those who feel the “bigot” label is unjust – to denounce and expel those in their ranks who consistently behave like this. Because when you don’t do so, when you stand on the same stage or in the same crowd as those who spout such harmful, hateful statements so readily, you should not be surprised when the label gets applied to your movement as a whole…including yourself.