“Much of this is not about health care at all”

Yes, that seems right.

Preceding the president’s speech to a gathering of House Democrats, thousands of protesters descended around the Capitol to protest the passage of health care reform. The gathering quickly turned into abusive heckling, as members of Congress passing through Longworth House office building were subjected to epithets and even mild physical abuse.

A staffer for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) had been spat on by a protestor. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called a ‘ni–er.’ And Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a “faggot,” as protestors shouted at him with deliberately lisp-y screams. Frank, approached in the halls after the president’s speech, shrugged off the incident.

But Clyburn was downright incredulous, saying he had not witnessed such treatment since he was leading civil rights protests in South Carolina in the 1960s.

“It was absolutely shocking to me,” Clyburn said, in response to a question from the Huffington Post. “Last Monday, this past Monday, I stayed home to meet on the campus of Claflin University where fifty years ago as of last Monday… I led the first demonstrations in South Carolina, the sit ins… And quite frankly I heard some things today I have not heard since that day. I heard people saying things that I have not heard since March 15, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus.”

“It doesn’t make me nervous as all,” the congressman said, when asked how the mob-like atmosphere made him feel. “In fact, as I said to one heckler, I am the hardest person in the world to intimidate, so they better go somewhere else.”

Asked if he wanted an apology from the group of Republican lawmakers who had addressed the crowd and, in many ways, played on their worst fears of health care legislation, the Democratic Party, and the president, Clyburn replied:

“A lot of us have been saying for a long time that much of this, much of this is not about health care a all. And I think a lot of those people today demonstrated that this is not about health care… it is about trying to extend a basic fundamental right to people who are less powerful.”

(Thanks, Jender-Parents.)

5 thoughts on ““Much of this is not about health care at all”

  1. Much of this isn’t about healing – that’s quite right. Just for interest, here’s an article about the birth of the British NHS. Bevan was also likened to Hitler by his wealthy opponents who wanted to see healthcare paid for by insurance. And those people were apparently worried that ‘the feckless poor’ would abuse the service.

  2. There’s a good bit of racism working here; the people pelting black congressional people with racial slurs surely make that pretty clear.

    There’s also this fear of big government.

  3. Monkey, there are a lot of people who are dead set against any increase in government control and government run services. They do tend to be consistent, or at least some of them. They’d prefer to see public education ruined than to have more gov’t involvement. They’ll even side against gov’t intervention which it is distinctly to their benefit.

    One person I know well rants against the gov’t as useless and incompetent. Well, except for the military (he went to Annapolis and was a naval officer for 25 years) and the military health care and subsidies he has gotten just about all his life. Other than that, though… So the consistency can be partial.

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