health (s)care 1: The debate we’re having is not about health care
I’ve been working on a few thoughts re: the healthcare “debate” we’re having in the U.S. from my perspective as a “professional consumer” of same. I didn’t plan to write this, though.
I have been seething at the treatment President Obama received addressing Congress about healthcare last Wednesday. The disrespect shown him – not just by Addison Graves Wilson of South Carolina, aka. “Joe the Heckler” but by the entire Republican caucus – was nauseating. Almost to a person, these “statesmen and women” of the opposition heckled the President waving sheafs of paper, petulantly pouted, booed and catcalled, and shot him endless hate-filled sneers worthy of a pissed-off 8 year old. One congressman even walked out for benefit of the cameras. It was disgusting.
Their venom has nothing to do with healthcare. It has everything to do with race.
Like the birth certificate flap that entertained us through the Summer, Spring’s anti-stimulus “tea parties” and pretty much every other pseudo-conflict stirred up since Obama’s election, the racial subtext of the health care “debate” is blatant.
Some people cannot abide having an intelligent, thoughtful black man in the Oval Office.
Finally someone with a pulpit has put the obvious out front and center. Maureen Dowd titled her column in yesterday’s New York Times Boy Oh, Boy, putting the missing word back into Wilson’s shout out, as in “You lie, boy!” Think about it for a nanosecond and you know she’s right. The old racist code word for black men was loud and clear.
Now, read carefully: no, not everyone who disagrees with Obama’s health care plans is a racist. Reasonable people have fiscal objections to government-run health care, philosophical objections, objections about his approach, and there are all sorts of worries about what change might do to our precarious status quo.
Are you hearing those people? No.
You’re hearing a U.S. senator boast how he’ll destroy Obama’s presidency by destroying his health care bill. You hear Master Wilson’s “liar liar” and how it’s netted him over 700 grand for re-election. You’re hearing Lindsey Graham – the so-called “reasonable” South Carolina senator – and a gaggle of other legislators calling the President a disaster.
And as always when politicians blow hard at the bottom of the barrel, they stir up muck.
Look at pictures from last week’s “tea parties”. Read the signs. You don’t need a psychic to see the real point of the protests. Obama is a “Fascist Muslim Communist!” (Will someone please tell me how anybody can be all those things at once?) Another shows Bin Laden passing the terrorist baton to Obama. Some of these fine patriots even put Obama’s picture in a pile of horse manure and took each other’s pictures standing in it. That’s a debate?
Death panels, granny-killers, black-on-white racism, a senator (Inhofe of Oklahoma this time) grandly proclaiming “I refuse to read the [healthcare] bill and I’m proud to vote against it!” Guns at town halls. Radio talk – serious – of killing the President. And anybody who has any kind of rational argument for, against, or middling on the actual issue of health care is a terrorist supporting a terrorist.
Don’t agree? Don’t think it’s racism, just strong opinions about a contentious issue? Take a look these photos from the first “tea parties” in April, set up to protest the stimulus package: “Obama’s plan: White slavery.” “The American taxpayers are the Jews for Obama’s ovens.” You look at the rest. I don’t have the stomach. The racial subtext has been front and center for the opposition from the moment Obama was elected.
The Obama presidency has brought out the best and the worst in America. So many of us have a quiet pride in our nation taking such a significant step last November, including many who disagree with him and didn’t vote for him. But at the other bottom of that barrel are those so incensed by his election they welcome him as termites welcome an exterminator. They cannot abide – abide! This! New! World!
Racism is the venom in the veins of America. It’s time to get it out – to call it out – before it kills us.
This “debate” disgusts me. And it has nothing to do with health care.