Monday, March 22, 2010

Desperate and dangerous

As the fight over healthcare reform in the US entered the final days before a vote in the US House of Representatives, it was clear that the teabaggers were becoming increasingly desperate. In the halls of Congress, they again showed their true colours, calling Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a veteran of the civil rights struggle alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, a “nigger”. They spat on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), who is also African American. They called Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) a “faggot”.

The right has declared that none of this ever happened or, if it did, “it was either a plant, an infiltrator, or a freak who attached himself to a group that wants no part of him,” as one teabagger put it. Bullshit. Racism, sexism and homophobia are at the very heart of the teabagger “movement”—and so is denial of reality. They now even claim they never coined the name “teabagger”, ignoring that they, in fact, did. After they created the name, of course, rational people were only too happy to help them claim it, pointing out its modern slang meaning along the way.

But shifting blame and lying about things is just what teabaggers do. It’s understandable, really, because they’re being whipped into their frothing frenzy by corporate elites through phony “grassroots” organisations (which is why rational people refer to the “tea party movement” as “astroturf activism”). When they’re led by a lie, why should they value truth and honesty?

Over the past few months, teabagger rhetoric has become increasingly aggressive. The racist and homophobic taunts are only one example. A teabagger in the US House Gallery stood up and shouted “kill the bill”, and Republicans on the House floor actually cheered. Proof, as if it was needed, that the Republican Party and teabaggers are allies, if not identical.

The problem isn’t mere obnoxiousness, crudeness and classlessness: In recent months their rhetoric has become increasingly violent, too. Now, thinly veiled death threats are common at their rallies and in their rantings.

All of which is why I say that no matter what happens with the House vote on healthcare reform later today, things with the teabaggers will get much worse before—or if—it gets better. If the bill passes, they’ll become violent in retaliation. If the bill loses, however, they’ll be emboldened and will use violence in order to intimidate and suppress opposition to them.

We’ve seen this happen before, of course, and history is a great teacher—and a warning. Personally, I believe that we’ve witnessed the teabaggers cross the line from a proto-fascist movement into a full-fledged fascist movement. They are dangerous and, as we’ve all seen in the past few weeks, increasingly desperate. Their aggressive desperation, combined with wilful ignorance and millions of dollars from corporate elites, is a recipe for disaster and a serious threat, one the republic may not be able to withstand.

No comments: