A few journalists have hit the nail right on the head when they attribute the rancor and violence over our new health care bill to much more than just an opposing opinion on this legislation. A person need not go much deeper than the surface to witness the real cause of the anger: a deep-seated repulsion, a backlash, to minority members holding our highest offices.
Charles Blow and Frank Rich both writing for the New York Times, address the underlying rationale for our current rage:
Unfortunately, it does not take much to bring our bases instincts to the surface. Historically, all it has taken is negative economic factors. It’s always the economy, stupid. When people lose their jobs and their lives take a nosedive that actually threatens their well-being, they naturally lash out at the government. However, too often, they support rather negative political replacements in the hopes of rectifying their own situations. A major part of these reactions is that the replacements typically focus on a specific group, usually it is a minority group, as the enemy who caused this economic havoc. And the people fall for it, hook, line and sinker.
This is exactly what happened in Germany that enabled Hitler to come to power. Germany was in dire financial straits. Too many people were out of work. The blame had to be directed at someone, and how convenient it was to place that onus at the feet of non-Aryans? Furthermore, the fear and hatred generated was also a means for Hitler to amass and build his own power base. Worse than Hitler’s motives and behavior though, was the acceptance of his actions by the population. So many Germans knew about the slaughter of the Jews, as did international leaders. For the sake of “peace” and “politeness”, they stood by and watched the murder and mayhem. The goal of “not making a scene” was more important than saving innocent lives.
In our country today, we are witnessing a similar phenomenon. Many people are unemployed and lash out at our government as the culprit who caused this mess. Part and parcel of their retaliation is the need to attack people who formerly were deemed less-than-full citizens, i.e. minorities, women and gay people. That tact seems to provide some release for the angry ones.
The Tea Party has come into being due to our hard economic factors. But their not-so-subtle use of their underlying prejudices is what is fueling the fires of discontent:
This is our Tea Party. Keep in mind that they justify government involvement in such benefits as Social Security and Medicare, just not in anything else that does not directly affect them. Such conservative politicians who are allying themselves with the Tea Party are courting their own downfall. For those Republicans to use the Tea Party for their own political aims is a losing, destructive policy. Just as these prejudiced people have turned against all government, they too will turn against those Republicans who consider them their friends. Just this morning some Tea Party activists voiced their venom at John McCain, blaming him for all that has transpired because he lost the Presidential election. Can you believe that he is now using Sarah Palin, currently the honey of the Tea Party (this will end soon as well) in his desperate efforts to get reelected? Didn’t he learn anything the first time around?
But I digress. There is nothing productive or healing about this Tea Party. Their goals are purely disruptive and include such ugly strategies as racial and sexual hatred. We have yet to hear any positive fixes for what ails us from this party. Their mission is to divide, not to unify. Sure enough, their venom is causing their members to turn against even themselves. In their escalating outrage, there are no limits to the destruction, and that encompasses even their own.
In a similar vein, I feel sorry for all of those Catholic children who were abused by their clergy. Once again, as if those sins weren’t bad enough, the cover-up and refusal of the Church and its leadership never to have taken corrective steps to stop that abuse makes these abusive practices even more appalling. Sin heaped upon ever greater sin.
We all need to heed the words of Edmund Burke:
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.