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The Republican leadership was quick to apologize, Saturday, for racist and anti-gay comments made by some citizens against Democrats who supported the health care bill.
Anti-reform demonstrators at the nation’s capitol yelled racial slurs against Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who had marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and two other congressmen. One demonstrator spit at Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.). Several protestors yelled anti-gay slurs at Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) “I heard people saying things today that I have not heard since March 15, 1960, when I was marching to try to get off the back of the bus,” Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters at the Capitol.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) told CNN the attacks were “contemptible.” Eric Cantor (R-Va.,) told ABC-TV that “nobody condones that at all.” John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Republicans’ House minority leader, called the incidents “reprehensible.” But he then said that the incidents were isolated and that the real issue was that “millions of Americans want no part” of health insurance reform.
But the racism, bigotry, and homophobia although “contemptible” and “reprehensible” were not “isolated.” They were heard from crowds who attended Sarah Palin rallies during the campaign of 2008, although John McCain specifically condemned them, and Palin only smiled. They were heard at most “tea party” rallies. They were heard at almost every anti-health care rally for more than a year.
It is true that most of the crowd didn’t resort to venomous hatred, but enough did to make it not isolated incidents of a political party that seems to have long since given up the notion of the “big tent” philosophy of inclusion, and to embarrass Republican leaders who had to issue apologies.
In contrast, voices of bigotry have not been heard at rallies of those who support health care reform. Perhaps, the health care bill needs one quick amendment—psychiatric care for all Americans, especially those who have sold out any principles they may have had by exposing their sputtering venomous hatred for anyone who doesn’t look, act, or think like they do.
[Walter Brasch is an award-winning syndicated columnist, and the author of 17 books. You may contact him through his website, www.walterbrasch.com]