Sunday, March 21, 2010
There Will Be Blood
I'll try to make this quick.
Chances are by now you've heard that at a tea bagger rally yesterday on Capitol Hill, angry protesters chanted "nigger" at Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who happens to be an icon of the civil rights movement. They also spat on another black congressman, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri; one person was arrested for it but Cleaver has declined to press charges. And CNN reported that several people shouted "faggot" at Barney Frank of Massachusetts. In the end, Capitol police were forced to escort the lawmakers into the Capitol.
Oh yeah, and all of this follows a brick thrown through the window of Rep. Louise Slaughter's office in Niagara Falls, after she suggested using a procedural technicality to push the health care bill through Congress.
I may as well get it out of the way and defuse the automatic response from the right to anyone who goes through the trouble of pointing out how ignorant, irresponsible and flat-out repugnant this kind of behavior is: No, of course not every tea bagger is a batshit crazy racist. But I've said it before (as has Cesca, perfectly) and there's just no way around it: The movement has a very large racial component to it -- not simply racist but xenophobic. All this outrage stems from the sheer terror that these almost uniformly white assholes feel as the country they've always believed they're entitled to slips further and further out of their control; America, like it or not, is now not simply a multi-cultural nation, but one in which the various minorities that have made it up almost since the beginning are represented at the highest levels of power. These idiots spitting and hurling epithets and shouting obscenities are the last gasp of a fading era -- its final, ugly death spasms.
But that doesn't mean that when they get tired of yelling -- when they truly come to believe that they've been beaten back -- they'll simply go home and cry in their beers. I've said this almost since this tea bagger insanity started and definitely since people began screaming about "revolution" and bringing guns to presidential events, and since "Oath Keeper" groups formed to defend against the supposed rise of a socialist police state that in reality is nothing more than a paranoid funhouse mirror fantasy: There's going to be violence. These lunatics aren't going to go quietly. I promise you, there are some for whom shouting about how "we want out country back" won't be enough. They've concocted a bulletproof belief system -- one that can't be argued with, that's immune to things like logic and reason -- and that belief system is a matter of life and death to them.
Once again, not everyone participating in these rallies is a bomb waiting to go off; the tea baggers have always had some legitimate complaints that deserve to be addressed. But racism and xenophobia as an overarching impetus for this movement -- why people are willing to take to the streets in outrage now as opposed to when George W. Bush was spending billions, bailing out banks and engaging in governmental civil rights violations -- well, that can't be easily swept under the rug and ignored.
Over the past week, between mocking the sick and shouting blatantly racist and homophobic rhetoric, we've seen the true face of much of the tea bagger movement revealed -- and it's only happening because these peoples' last, desperate hours are upon them when it comes to the health care battle. They've got nothing to lose at this point -- no reason to hide behind bullshit excuses and misdirection anymore.
But the battle for the very soul of America, which these clowns truly believe they're fighting and are on the correct side of, is far from over. Think of the kind of unbounded fury that it takes to scream "nigger" or "faggot" at anyone, let alone a U.S. lawmaker. Now ask yourself this question: Will the people filled with that much rage just lay down and accept defeat when they've spent months being stirred to the point of irresponsible and dangerous madness?
And can those who've been doing the stirring -- or who've quietly benefited from it -- really get away with reacting with shock at the actions of the monster they've helped create?