BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
Sometimes one has cause to wonder if all the civil disorder, going under the pseudo title of town meetings, is really about health care at all. Some of the anger demonstrated by rowdies uses references to health care, mostly gained from lies and disinformation spread by republican and right wing sources. But much of it is just plain anger at government.
We saw this anger at government in the earlier “tea parties” coordinated by anti-tax groups and funded by billionaires. It is that same emotional hostility that is filling our television screens when they are given a stage and cameras in the format of farcical town meetings.
But we are seeing the undertones of a much more ominous threat than disrupting meetings about health care. Essentially these are anti-government demonstrations, full of the hate and hostility. One hysterical woman screaming and crying, “I want my country back,” leaves a haunting impression on us. Did she really think her country had been stolen, or maybe just hijacked by atheists and people of another color?
More came to light in another meeting when a woman went down, stood, pointed her finger, and shouted at a senator that they had taken prayer out of the schools, made “baby killing” legal, and she “wanted her country back.” It seems that these people are being driven by all their frustrations, real or imagined. The leaders of the religious right wing of the Republican Party, with the aid and assistance of party leaders, have drummed into their followers the evil and sins of their own government, made them feel victimized, and suggested that their anger is righteous and justified.
It is the righteous anger and hate rhetoric of the anti-abortion crowd that has led some of its members to feel justified in violence, and even murder itself. If people are told day after day that these doctors are killing babies, then it is not long until some kook kills a doctor. The murderer of Dr. George Tiller, one Scott Rowder, is a hero to some, now receiving visitors, phone calls, and mail every day telling him he is right.
One demonstrator outside a town meeting wore a T-shirt with the slogan worn by Tim McVeigh when he was captured after the Oklahoma City bombing. It quoted Thomas Jefferson saying, “The tree of liberty must be watered now and then by the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Furthermore, this advocate of violence was wearing a gun and carrying a sign labeling the president as a Nazi.
Jefferson would no doubt turn over in his grave to know his words were being used in fueling insurrection against the American government he helped found. Most of us understand that Obama is not King George III.
We have seen any number of those placards with Nazi swastikas and pictures of the president with a Hitler mustache. Again, these paranoid people are trying to connect our president, and his efforts to save the country from economic chaos and to bring decent health care to millions, with a repressive Nazi regime that threatened the entire civilized world.
One might think that these signs had only to do with the unbelievable notion that President Obama was going “to pull the plug on Grandma” or maybe on Sarah Palin’s parents and handicapped child. That is doubtful. Some may be stupid enough to believe those lies, but surely not so many.
No, again it is something more sinister. It is anti-government emotions run amuck, fed and stoked by party media and political and religious demagoguery. Strangely enough, their arousal in our minds of the Nazi parallel fits their own conduct, rather than that of a democratically elected humanitarian administration. Does anyone recall Hitler’s “Brown Shirts?”
As if the well-financed anti-tax, anti-government forces, and the Christian right wing were not enough to be scary to thinking citizens, there’s more.
Some are suggesting that there is a racial motive underlying the emotionalism and paranoia which seems to float among those defying any and all proposals for progress of the Obama Administration. This writer is not ready to go there just yet.
However, the carrying of signs with the “N” word is disturbing. Pictures of the president with the swastika on his forehead and the Hitler mustache are “hate” expressions. Is it not just another step for some gun-toting nut to attempt an assassination “to save the country?”
A related phenomenon is the resurgence of the civilian militia movement. Gun enthusiasts and the conspiracy theorists among us have been touting the threat of President Obama “coming after your guns.” Of course, he has said nothing about that, but guns and ammunition have been flying off the store shelves. A present shortage of ammunition has been caused by the run on store supplies.
There are stories of new militia units, paramilitary groups, springing up here and there around the country. Evidently these people think they are threatened and may have to fight somebody. One would suppose that might be the government, law enforcement, liberals, or maybe persons of color and immigrants. These are the conspiracy threats felt by these paranoid people.
The last surge in organized militia and related anti-tax and anti-government activities was halted when the Oklahoma City bombing was carried out by associates of such groups. Some who refused to pay taxes were jailed. This brought these militia types into disfavor and suspicion by the general population. People began to realize how dangerous that hysterical, anti-government paranoia can be.
We have forgotten too quickly.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer