Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's Time to Tell the Fascists: This Was Never Your Country, and You Can't Have It Back

Health care reform protesters make their point outside the office of Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., who is black.

It's time we called a spade a spade. I realize those words are emotionally charged. But I use them quite intentionally. Why?

Because the people who are yelling so passionately against health care reform could really care less about the topic. If they cared, they wouldn't be so eager to shout down all debate. What they're really angry about is that their fascist vision of America lost at the polls. And what really frosts their watermelon is that they were defeated by a black man—who has no place in the America of their twisted dreams.

Occasionally one of them slips up and shows their true colors, like the Nazis who defaced the sign above in Smyrna, GA, in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
What they painted in the dark gains crystal clarity in the light: this is not about health care; it's about making sure that our first black president fails, and that we never ever have another one. Only then will their true America be restored.

Vilifying the stimulus package wasn't working. As part of the saying goes, you can fool all of the people some of the time. But most of the people are keenly aware that the bulk of the current federal deficit was caused by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who simultaneously (1) launched their misadventure in Iraq, (2) let business charlatans go unchecked, and (3) pushed tax revenues to record lows. What the Bernanke-Geitner-Obama stimulus added to the deficit, just to begin cleaning up the conservatives' mess, was peanuts, compared to the trillions in damage done by the end of 2008. The American people grasped those facts. But still the fascists wanted their way.

They tried to get it by attacking Obama's first Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. She had been part of an appeals-court panel who had agreed with the city of New Haven that it could not discriminate against black firefighters (a ruling eventually supported by four of the Supreme Court justices) and who had declined to apply the Supreme Court's bogus, sloppy 2nd Amendment decision to the states (even though the Supreme Court itself had not done so). And she had dared to suggest that the experience of a "wise Latina" might be just as valid in making judicial judgments as the experience of a white male (wise or not). But that got little traction. Even a few Republican Senators found it too much to swallow.

So then they joined the "birthers"—those odd birds who believe with absolute conviction that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, making him constitutionally not qualified to be president. They decline to face the stubborn fact that the State of Hawaii has sworn in public multiple times that it has the original of Barack Obama's birth certificate and has issued the same certified facsimiles that have been required in most states for decades. And the stubborn fact that local newspapers announced the date of his birth and his complete name. And the stubborn fact that multiple courts confirmed that documentation, and Obama's natural-born citizenship, during several years before the November election. And so they appear at town hall meetings, shout down elected members of Congress and everyone else, and proclaim with blood-curdling passion, "I want my country back!" Well, that didn't work too well either. Even a few conservative Republicans had the good grace to find it embarrassing.

So now the tactic is to bring down Obama over health care. The not-very-subtle message is that a black man insured by the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan does not care about the health care security of white Americans.

And so they tell outright lies: he wants to take away health insurance that current beneficiaries find worthwhile; he wants to abolish private insurance by making a public option compete with the insurance companies for services and costs (like the U.S. Postal Service competes with FedEx and UPS); he wants to create "death panels" to euthanize grandma and babies with physical or mental birth defects; he wants to ensure health coverage for poor blacks and poor Hispanics and illegal immigrants and reduce it for everyone else; he wants to explode the federal deficit to the point the future generations will never be able to repay it. And he wants to do all this because he's an uppity black intellectual who thinks he knows best and, as an alien outsider looking in, could never understand what white working-class Americans need.

The American people rejected all of this in the November election. The American people decided that Barack Obama was qualified to be president and best equipped to attack several persistent issues that stymied every president since FDR. We understood, when we had our wits about us, that chief among them was health care—that the current system is a sinking ship, getting ever more costly and dysfunctional, swelling the ranks of the uninsured every day, relentlessly on collision course with a future moment when only the very fortunate and the very rich will have any health insurance at all.

But the fascists still won't take no for an answer. They still want "their country" back. And so the American people now face a choice: did we mean what we said in November, or did we not? If we did, we need to say it again today: as a country, we have turned away from racism, and we will not turn back.

We need to support all who show a genuine commitment to salvaging the American health care system. And we should not be dissuaded by insurance companies who have duped us so many times, or the fascists who buy their propaganda.

Above all, we need to tell the fascists, if you don't like American democracy, find another home. If you insist on being loud-mouths who deny others' freedom of speech, we will provide you the aversion therapy of a jail cell. If you perpetrate hate crimes—like using racist, Nazi symbols to intimidate the rest of us—we will shun you promptly and insist that you be prosecuted as our laws require. We are the real Americans and you need to understand: this was never your country, and we will never let you have it back.

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