(NNPA)—In the end in the United States, as evidenced by the furor over passing of the Health Reform Bill, it always leads back to race. Those American Tea Party protesters who screamed racial epithets at Black members of Congress and who waved signs whining that “Obama Plans White Slavery,” once again illustrated that those who exult over a “post-racial” America are, to put it mildly, living in some kind of fantasyland.
As columnist Courtland Milloy noted, “The Tea Party people didn’t refer to White Democrats using racial epithets. No one yelled ‘white trash’ or ‘redneck cracker’ at any of those congressmen.”
The race angle around the feverish and vitriolic opposition to the Health Reform Bill is also reflected in a statement attributed to former Republican Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. The Democrats, who voted for the bill, declared Gingrich “will have destroyed their party, such as Lyndon Johnson did, for 40 years.” What Johnson did was to sign civil rights legislation that eliminated legal White supremacy in the South, a signing that inspired most White supremacists and racists to switch over to the Republican Party where they and their ideological descendants remain today. It really is somewhat refreshing to see a Republican leader finally acknowledge this publicly.
The long-time political strategy of stirring up Whites by insisting that government programs such as health reform are mainly designed to help Black folks is also flagrantly reflected in a statement attributed to the publication, Investor’s Business Daily, that the bill “is affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color.”
It is important to note that those statements were not made by the “Bubbas” in the country but from supposedly “responsible” sources. That such a tactic has often been politically successful is confirmed in a very revealing observation by columnist Harold Meyerson who noted that… “most of the House Democrats who voted no come from heavily White working-class districts that have viewed Democratic reforms since the ’60s as programs designed to help ‘other people’—Blacks in particular….” The people in those districts, despite concrete evidence that the chief beneficiaries of practically every government program, including affirmative action, are Whites, eagerly believe the lies. Black parents, educators, journalists, preachers and professionals have the responsibility of informing our people that when politicians and talk show propagandists bellow consistently about what the American people want, what the American people will not stand for, what the American people must do to take back their country, are referring to the people who look like themselves. Their definition of “American people” doesn’t even include eternally grateful people such as Clarence Thomas, Michael Steele, Star Parker, Walter Williams, Jesse Lee Peterson, Thomas Sowell, Stanley Crouch, Shelby Steele and their cohorts. We are obliged to communicate, by any means available, to Black folks the real deal about the opposition to programs such as health care reform.
Otherwise, we will share the blame if Black folks are unprepared when the attacks become physical as well as verbal.
(Journalist/Lecturer A. Peter Bailey, a former associate editor of Ebony, is currently editor of Vital Issues: The Journal of African American Speeches. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)