I can’t stay quiet about this anymore. It’s too disturbing, and it’s frankly frightening.
I’ve been wondering for a while: what, exactly, is all the anger about the health care plan all about? Where is the anger that fuels the tea party protests coming from? Objectively, what’s happening is that there’s a watered-down health care bill moving through Congress that will almost certainly not change health care for most people in this country. There’s also a massive fiscal stimulus on top of a bailout for banks and car companies that has cost a lot of money, and will put us further into debt.
The sort of behavior on display at town halls across the country has nothing to do with any of that. This footage is from a Chris Murphy event. Watch:
There’s a lot that bugs me, here. The complete lack of knowledge about the health care bill is one, and the constant references to ACORN is another. These people do not have their facts straight. But that doesn’t matter.
What bothers me the most is the body language. I’ve been surrounded by people who wanted to hurt me, shout me down, or bully me before. They loom, they glare, they stare, they move and act a certain menacing, arrogant way.
That’s what I see here. These people are bullies. You can call me a liberal, an Obamabot, a socialist or whatever name you like that allows you to dismiss what I’m writing, but it doesn’t make it any less so. I know what I see.
They don’t want to debate. They want to yell loudest, and impose their will by force instead of working with others. There’s an air of menace to the entire thing, and while some of that may come from the fact that the videographer is asking pointed questions and taping them, most of it comes from the crowd itself.
Why is this happening? I don’t know all the reasons, but if I had to guess I’d imagine that these people have been told, or for whatever reason they have come to believe, that a Democratic administration will lead to the destruction of America. Several seem to believe their freedoms are going to be taken away. By whom? How? Which freedoms? Has anyone actually ever proposed that? Naturally there are no answers. To even ask is proof that you don’t get it, and should be dismissed as a hopeless case. Bullies do this.
Another thing they do is use extreme examples from the past to justify their own awful behavior. When the videographer asks if these protesters are the new Code Pink, everyone looks outraged. But that’s exactly what they are.
Speaking of, some people are comparing the tea partiers to the protests against the Iraq War, and I have to disagree. I attended many of those protests, and while there was fear and anger in the air in those awful days, we were not mobs. Some protesters behaved badly, but vast majority were peaceful and respectful. The mood was completely different.
In fact, I can tell you without hesitation that the people in the above video were the same kind of people who pulled over next to me as I stood on Windsor green in 2003 with my sign (“I love America and I love peace,” it read) and yelled, as loud as they could, that I was a traitor, that I should back the president, that I was letting terrorists win. We stood there anyway, and most of us took it in silence.
What’s happening this summer worries me. Everyone has a right to free assembly, and a right to speak their piece. But there’s a line between free speech and debate and just trying to bully the opposition into silence, and these people have crossed it.
They need to ask themselves: what are they hoping to achieve? What are the facts, really? And is this the best way to accomplish their aims?
And, the best question of all, where is this all going to end up?
I have a solution, and it’s the same one I remember trying to use back in 2003. We’re all patriots here. We all love our country. Can we put aside the fear and hate and meanness for a few minutes and just talk? No raised voices, no name-calling, no accusations, no rehashing of past battles. Tell me: what do you want? Why? And then I’ll tell you what I want, and why. We can go from there.
Let’s step away from the edge.