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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Is it about health-care reform? No, it's about finally lynching Rosa Parks

People go to town halls to disrupt, insult, and abuse. Their defenders make the preposterous claim that they are simply voicing their protests over proposed legislation they don't like. But what they don't like is stated in fabricated lies that have no basis or relationship to what is being proposed in the health care reform.

There are many questions about reform proposals that can be asked and that need some answers. But those questions are not being asked by the protesters. In a lower key, you can hear some town hall participants asking them, but they are drowned out by the sound and the fury, and cable news and internet videos concentrate on the instances of conflict, insult, and abuse.

The most salient question is whether you want the insurance corporations, the right wing obstructionists, their lie fabricators, and their raging followers to set the direction and the agenda for the country? By comparison, rigid socialism takes on a benign aspect. When people base their words and actions on lies that are proven false over and over again, the country is in trouble.

Much accusation of Nazism, death panels, government-mandated euthanasia, is being directed at President Obama and those who see a need for health-care reform. But they are based upon falsehoods about what is being proposed, not any basis in fact.

When George W. Bush was accused of totalitarian tactics, the analogies were based on facts. He pushed us into a war in which 4,300 soldiers have been slaughtered with a lie about weapons of mass destruction and links of Iraq with Al Qaeda. He instituted warrantless wiretaps of American civilians. His henchman adopted torture as a tool of interrogation. And he instituted a concentration camp network that still has not been unsnarled.

The pretexts under which Nazism and government totalitarianism are being charged in the reform debate do not possess that degree of factuality. In fact, they are just another battle in the culture wars, a retaliatory action.

In the climate of falsehood and rage existing today, no critical dialogue that could come up with a reasonable compromise for making health-care accessible and affordable to everyone is possible. That is the point of the protests in the form that they have taken.

Not much has been said of the culture wars since the election of 2004, but they are raging. And the rage over health-care reform is clearly a rage over other matters. Paul Krugman says it is a result of "cultural and racial anxieties." Much of the dialogue is crypto-racism, although many other sources of bigotry and hatred are also involved. When people are raging in talk that has no basis in fact and reality, you know there are other sources for their outrage.

The best illustration of what is taking place occurred at a town hall meeting held by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Cable news and some internet sources show an unruly black woman being shoved out of the meeting by police. What has not been shown is what really happened.

The woman had a poster of Rosa Parks, the woman who refused to give up her seat on a bus to white man and started the civil rights movement. She had the poster rolled up. When a journalist asked to see what the poster was, she started to unfurl it, when a white man jumped up, grabbed the poster, and ripped it up. The woman was ejected for trying to get her poster back.

Here is the story as reported on the Huffington Post.

Among the many eyebrow-raising clips aired on major news networks yesterday from Senator Claire McCaskill's health care town hall was one of a woman being half-escorted, half-dragged from the building.

What the clip failed to catch was that the woman was provoked. She and a few other women had brought posters to the town hall, but they rolled them up after being booed and berated by the crowd. When the woman unrolled one to show to a journalist, an angry man in the crowd rushed over and tore it up. A poster of what, you ask? Rosa Parks. When the woman moved to take her poster back, the police stepped in and escorted both parties from the building. But only the woman made national news.

Forget about health-care. America has some old battles to fight. If you think it's worth it.


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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States