Paul Krugman today: "The driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the 'birther' movement.... Voters who can be swayed by appeals to cultural and racial fear are a declining share of the electorate."
The belligerence of the minority that constitutes the birthers and the town hall mobs is an indication of their desperation. They cannot accept that the country is disassembling--however slowly and tentatively--the wall of quiet, under-the-radar racism and white privilege. Many of them may not even be aware of the underlying racism that is driving their fear. That is the nature of fear. It does not want to be brought out into the light.
These fearful people are not only alarmed to have a black man in the oval office, but they are terrified that he will actually succeed. In their minds, it is much worse to have a successful black president than a weak, ineffectual one, because the death knell of white privilege rings louder and louder with each step of progress Obama's administration makes.
Not surprisingly, the flames of desperation and fear are being happily fanned, yet again, by those who stand to benefit from the death of health care reform, a very, very small minority indeed. Those flames are being fanned with no regard for the likelihood of violent consequences. They know exactly what they're doing, and consequences--and the country--be damned.
The fanners don't care, so long as the corporations in which they hold a stake continue to make over-the-top profits for substandard health care. They don't care that those profits come at a crippling expense not only to millions of individuals and families but to the entire nation. They don't care that they are further entrenching those who hide behind the wall of white privilege and inciting them not only to do all they can to undermine health care reform but also to unleash the violence of their fear.
It's time for the supporters of health care reform--not to mention the supporters of civil liberties, free speech, and human dignity--to raise our voices, not in anger and hatred, but in determination and resolve. We need health care reform. It's long past overdue. And we need to move on from the era of white privilege to an era of multi: multicultural multiracial multiorientation multigenerational progress.
We need not only to contact our representatives and let them know how fervently we support health care reform, but to organize and mobilize and use all the resources available to us to counter the cynical manipulators selfishly inciting racial violence in our midst.
Remember the famous line "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"? In the United States we have been living with worse than the Berlin Wall for as long as we have been a nation. The wall of white privilege causes all of us to suffer, on both sides of the wall. It's time. It's long past time. Tear it down.