Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When Is Political Involvement Hate Speech?

Why, when you oppose Democrats, of course.

When the healthcare reform bill passed the U.S. House last week by a vote of 220 to 211, it wasn’t hard to find things in it to oppose. This indeed is not a miracle cure. It won’t stop insurance companies from jacking up rates, for instance, but maybe folks like my 85-year-old mother will at least get a break on the cost of her prescription drugs.
But the most heinous thing that happened that day had nothing to do with the legislation itself. It was the vile display of bigotry by protesters at the foot of the Capitol steps. Someone, hiding in the crowd on that Saturday, spat on U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri. Several somebodies shouted the n-word, including to Rep. John Lewis, who was severely beaten during a 1965 civil rights march. And among the signs protesters held was one that said, referring to a senator and to a brand of gun, “If Brown can’t stop it, Browning can.”

No one could positively identify the culprits. The rest of the Tea Party revelers heard no evil, saw no evil, and spoke no evil. But they were doing evil.

Opposition to any piece of legislation is fine. But the brazen display of hateful name-calling and spitting on legislators that has occurred in connection with the bill has no place in our democratic process.

Apologists are quick to disavow these hate-mongers and marginalize them as fringe members of the Tea Party movement, which professes to have legitimate grievances against the federal government. But the heart and soul of the movement is rooted in hate for President Barack Obama — and not because he is a Democrat.

If you read the rest of that piece, you will discover that the only reason anyone opposed Obamacare was because Barack Obama is a half-black man and we're all a bunch of racists. This is nonsense, of course, as is the notion that the Tea Party movement is the new KKK. Plenty of people are unhappy with the direction that Obama and the Democrats are taking us (after all, 46% of Americans didn't vote for Teh One), including a percentage of people who did vote for BO. To call everyone who opposes huge deficits and government control of 1/6 of the economy racists is not just offensive, it's stupid.

Mark Davis notes that the "Tea Partiers are racists" meme is widespread and pervasive, but also illogical:
Their argument is: (A) This movement is filled with vocal people displeased with the way things are going; (B) I can find examples in history of people whose vocal displeasure was fueled by racism. Hence, (C) these people must be fueled by racism.

OK, boys, let's see how you like it: (A) You are fans of ObamaCare; (B) Castro is a fan of ObamaCare, so, (C) you are communists.

And while there may be more than a few communists among Obamacare supporters, it's unlikely that the vast majority of liberals think communism is anything but a discredited evil (well, unless you are Thomas Friedman).

Yet somewhere, sometime, it became unpatriotic to protest or say nasty things about the POTUS? When was that? Evan Coyne Maloney puts the date at January 20, 2009:

Will dissent become patriotic again once a Republican is president?

UPDATE: Victor Davis Hansen has more examples of "patriotic" dissent.