As I've watched the small, unrepresentative group of mouthbreathers who have decided to be most vocal in their opposition to health care reform, I can't shake the feeling that I've seen videos like this or pictures like the following before.

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Why does it all seem so familiar? Could it be the recent exposure to so many teabaggers? No, the recognition comes from something much older and more important. Then I remembered and followed up with a little photo browsing:

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Now, the attempt to pass health care legislation and the Civil Rights movement have next to nothing in common as issues, which only serves to underscore the following point. What we are seeing today is nothing new. It is the latest flare-up of a virus we have carried for more than two centuries as a society. There is a subset of our population, a group of people whose ability to attract attention is disproportionately large, who are psychologically and emotionally incapable of processing change of any kind. They are terrified of it like they are terrified of everything they do not understand, and they understand almost nothing (often by choice). They react in the only way they know how: anger and violence motivated by their own childish fear.

That's what these reactions are about. They're not about policy (health care, segregation, taxes, etc.) because these people have virtually no relevant information upon which to base policy-specific objections. They are about fear of a very misguided conception of the consequences. They hear a phrase like integration or universal health care and react violently to the outcomes they imagine (i.e. black men wantonly raping women, legalized subjugation of "the white race", "death panels", medical rationing, and so on) irrespective of its relationship to reality. Like children, they imagine a monster in the closet and, rather than cowering in fear under the blankets, they set out to destroy as many closets as possible.

When social issues like gay rights, access to health care, and environmental awareness suffer defeats at the hands of childish lashing out and hysteria, there are few comforts to be found. What little exists is the reassuring feeling that the Brave Stand taken by today's Patriots will be remembered no more fondly than George Wallace's stand in the schoolhouse door. Today's videos and images, like the images of uneducated white hillbillies violently opposing the Civil Rights movement, will serve as pictures in a history textbook twenty years from now, pictures which serve no purpose but to show the next generations of school kids how ignorant, bigoted, and flat-out stupid people were back in the day.

13 thoughts on “TOMORROW'S LOSERS”

  • Gotta appreciate the guy with the Skynryd Confederate flag shirt. Only two kinds of people wear them: Hipsters being coy and unabashed hicks.

  • You're so articulate. And you may also be right.

    I would like to understand how we can be sure that these protests arise from fear and ignorance. Such accusations may be justified ("death panels"), but also assume the other side has no valid argument.

    Let's assume the muddled masses are protesting because they've been frothed up by puppetmasters, elsewhere. (Yes, I did think for a couple seconds if I could somehow used "fluffed" instead of "frothed", and combine it with teabagging…) So sure, they're riled up out of ignorance and fear.
    But the puppetmasters? What are their arguments?

    It seems like they must have some agenda of their own. While we can criticize the protest mechanism, understanding the real motives might enable us to overcome their objections. Or perhaps we'll be convinced this isn't such a good idea after all.

  • I'm not at all convinced they can be convinced. They have no substantive objections because they have very little in the way of actual information. They don't like "change", yet most of them would happily privately bitch to you about their own health care. Many of those yelling the loudest at these town halls don't even have insurance.

    That the naive can be manipulated to take very vocal stands against their own interests is nothing new. That these crazy people should have any hand in negotiating the final legislation is what is the most ridiculous.

    Crazy people should be worked-around, both for their own benefit and that of society as a whole.

  • Although I generally agree with your point about people who resist change I would add one caveat. There is much overlap between the people who opposed integration and those now opposing health care reform. One of the undercurrents of the anti-Obamacare types is giving “free” health care to illegal aliens and the “indigent” and I think we all know just who it is being referred to in the scare quotes.
    Racism most certainly does play a part in this debate.
    As does fear of change.

  • Ok, the scare quotes were around free and indigent – so let me rephrase that. Illegal aliens and indigent = brown skinned people.

  • "Racism most certainly does play a part in this debate."

    Indeed. A huge part. The Southern Strategy will not go away quietly. Somewhere in the deepest pit of Hell, Lee Atwater is smirking.

  • Those historical photos hit hard for me. My twelve year old son learned about
    the Civil Rights era in school, and had some tough questions for me.
    As a bonus, he's black (as is my husband) and I'm white. At least he believes
    that SOME white Americans were on the side of Good.

  • Pretty accurate, and I just hope that your delightful optimism about how this plays out is warranted. The struggle for integration gave us assasinations, riots, National Guard in the streets of American cities and so forth, but back then the KKK wasn't armed and organized as thoroughly as the various militias are now, and there were no national media outlets that called for insurrection and assasination of the President as we have now. A fair amount of small-time local stuff, but now we have coast-to-coast Beck. The tradition is for the financiers and the raving preachers to have their second thoughts about what they've stirred up too late to stop it, and it looks like that's happening here too. I suppose it's worth asking whether the armed forces are loyal to the country or to their leaders; when the army takes to the streets to quell rioting that makes a big difference.

  • Slightly off topic, but I saw the picture you took of the "What you talkin' bout Willis?" tea-bagging protest sign on a list of best/worst protest signs somewhere on the internets.

  • "Many of those yelling the loudest at these town halls don’t even have insurance.

    That the naive can be manipulated to take very vocal stands against their own interests is nothing new. That these crazy people should have any hand in negotiating the final legislation is what is the most ridiculous.

    Crazy people should be worked-around, both for their own benefit and that of society as a whole."

    Firstly, I want to respond to this person. I might say that these statements are exactly what I am afraid of and I don't think that by saying I'm afraid of people and statements like this that I am being irrational. What you're effectively saying is that we should subjugate a sector of people and make sure they are not heard because they are "too stupid" to voice their opinion or vote. You sir have no idea what representative democracy really is then. Yet, despite how ridiculous your comments are, I will still allow YOU to vote because I believe EVERYONE deserves to be heard. No matter how you regard their intelligence, or opinion on the subject, or their Skynyrd shirt (not my cup of tea either, but prejudice is also an issue in this discussion and since it was brought up, you are stereotyping people and it's the equivalent of what they are doing to you. Effectively rendering you NO BETTER THAN THEM.)

    Voting is NOT A RIGHT it is a FRANCHISE, or a privilege granted to you by your state. And your access to that privilege is protected under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Perhaps we should do it your way, and have this legislation jammed down our throats as we yell in protest? Taxation without representation ring any bells? Effectively you want our legislators to work around our Constitution not just these people because we NEED health care reform now (which also happens to be a PRIVILEGE, not a RIGHT). But, what about "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" Also not rights and also not found in any of our governing documents. Those are found in the Declaration of Independence. Which is a long, beautifully written F-You letter to a king.

    There is certainly an irrational part to all of this. And I add that it comes from both sides, which is clearly depicted in the above article. But, the flip side is that you are forgetting about all of the people yelling "GIMME HEALTH CARE NOW!!" even if the cost is subjugation of people speaking against it, unfair taxation to afford it, government interference over human innovation because it's for the supposed "public good." I will say here that I think everyone needs it, no question, and I will also say not everyone deserves it, but that shouldn't get in there way. I think there are better ways to do this than what I've seen so far. However, when anyone brings up the issue of cost or any other reasonable argument AGAINST this legislation, we are labeled as people who are not PATRIOTS, bigoted, or "flat-out stupid." And even in this comment box, I have no desire to try to flesh out entirely my argument against this bill. This issue REQUIRES real discussion and yes some of it will be irrational, thank you for pointing out the obvious human emotion side of this issue. Next time, however, when you write something, try proof reading it so it doesn't have the same tone as the people you are trying to speak against. It reads like "We need health care, shut up if you don't like it hillbilly" countering "We don't want your Communist health care, you Communist." Both of those are not rational arguments, neither presents any facts. Then you can get to the part where the real argument is not in access to health care, but the way in which you will provide access to everyone. And as you can imagine, when people feel their gov't is going to do this by force if they have to, that makes people a little uncomfortable, irrational even.

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