It’s no big secret that the health care reform town halls are getting dramatically out of hand, and yet again displaying the erratic, borderline violent and frankly quite frightening behavior of extremist right-wingers. From the “Death to Obama” sign (h/t) and the man who brought a gun to an Obama town hall, there’s a lot of frightening, disgusting, and yes, racist, stuff going on.
From Tuesday, here’s yet another example:
At a Senator Claire McCaskill town hall, several black women brought a sign with them (and were apparently booed upon entering the room). They rolled the sign up, and set it aside. A photographer approached the woman sitting on the end of the aisle and asked to see the poster. As the woman unrolled the poster for the photographer, a white man got out of the bleachers, grabbed it from her, and attempted to destroy it. Audience members, who were overwhelmingly white, cheered. The woman got out of her seat to retrieve her poster. And something like four police officers grabbed her and escorted her out of the building. The audience cheered louder.
The hugely offensive sign that the man decided to rip up, by the way? It was of Rosa Parks.
It’s worth noting that the man who stole and vandalized the sign was arrested, and the woman who was the victim of this crime was let go. But we’ve still got police jumping to conclusions about who is to blame, and not instinctively choosing the white guy. And we’ve also got a mob mentality going on. Most of the audience members who cheered might not have even known what was on the sign. But if they did know what was on it, they cheered destruction of an image of a civil rights hero. And if they didn’t, they cheered the destruction of the sign simply based on who the woman holding it was. On what she looked like. Either way, I’m pretty damn sure that’s racism, and white entitlement. (I’m also willing to bet a whole lot that it was male entitlement, too — something tells me the guy would have been less likely to grab the same sign from another man.)
You see, fear-mongering never just stays fear-mongering for long. Call enough abortion providers murderers, and one’s going to end up getting shot. Say that the president is trying to instate “death panels” (on that subject, see here), and people are going to start publicly promoting violence against him. Convince white people that the tide is turning and not only will their undeserved privilege be revoked, but also that they’re the ones who are going to be racially oppressed now, and white people are going to start verbally and physically lashing out at people of color.
It’s not hard to add two and two together. And those who are hiding behind free speech and claiming there is no connection know it, too.