As annoyed as I am with the viciousness of the protests at town hall meetings being held across the country to try to gauge sentiment--and get suggestions--on healthcare, I have to harken back to days of my youth when many of us used some of the same harsh tactics to protest Vietnam, civil rights and women's rights issues.
My peeps didn't threaten violence; they did violence--blowing up whole cities--and we have so far escaped that. I don't expect the trend to continue, though, because of the torrent of hate talk from right wing dependables like Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, Hannity, O'Reilly, Kristol and the like. Their ridiculous misinformation ("the Democrats want to kill you") feeds the frenzy and the frustration and scares the hell out of anybody who's old or sick or both.
It does not appear that any amount of rational explanation will douse the flames of passion on the opposition side and I'm truly affraid that what we will get from the health care debate is absolutely no change. That is a worst case scenario, but it's what the right's power elite is about these days: continue the Bush years; destroy the republic and its protections ("starve the beast" is how one put it); keep the government out of everything, even those places where its solutions are the best ones.
I was especially distressed to see the abuse a guy like Rep. Tom Pierrello got in some of his Southside Virginia meetings. This decent, intelligent and courageous (while Bush was cutting brush, Periello was helping save a nation in Africa at great risk to his own life) guy is the very picture of rational engagement, of participatory democracy. The screamers not only didn't want to hear what he had to offer, they didn't want anybody with views different from theirs to talk, either.
That's totalitarian. It has nothing to do with what these people think of as a republican or democratic (little "r", little "d") form of government. It encourages only those with the most base instincts to dominate this part of the debate and, frankly, it makes us believe there are far more of them than there are of people who have different opinions on the issue. There are not. They're just louder and more obnoxious.
The Huffingtonpost's Sam Stein (among a number of others) reports that those who would subvert a health care bill are threatening violence upon those who support the Obama plan (or one of several others). Here's a published note from one of those highly-evolved opponents:
"You socialist fucks have the nerve to say stop the violence at the town hall meetings when they weren't violent until you pussies showed up because your nigger leader obama said to?????? When we have ours in Racine, Wi, I want you there. I want one of your little bitches to put his hands on this Marine. I want one of you to look or talk to me wrong. I'll be the last thing your ignorant faux body guards will remember for a very long time. You can fucking guarantee that."
Sarah Palin, the former VP candidate who doesn't seem to be able to finish anything, is now claiming there is some kind of "death panel" in the Obama proposal that will make the decisions on who lives and who dies and Newt Gingrich is yelling, "You go, girl!" in support of this absurdity. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky--I honestly can't stand to look at this guy, but that's just me--says that because of the threats of violence, the Republicans are winning the debate. Nice tactic, Mitch. Keep it up.
As one who is not opposed to violence in a good cause (the aforementioned Vietnam, civil rights, women's rights and a few others), I will not flip on that and say it should never happen just because my opposites are doing it. I guess it's time for my side to start sharpening our spears again. Now that will be some sport.