Sunday, April 04, 2010

Coarse Politics

Many people have noted the coarsening of political discourse in the last year. Many attribute this to the raucous debate on the recently passed health care reform legislation. Certainly there was a large amount of vitriol splashed about in, around and outside of Congressional chambers. Many news organizations would like to say that both Democrats and Republicans are equally responsible for this state of affairs. Almost certainly not! But we should leave that to history books to decide (if long, tall Texans don't rewrite them).

What should really concern us is the great possibility that this inflammatory language, has been taken by a small group of Americans, as permission to convert the threatened consequences into action. I find it frightening that in our midst there is a cohort of people who so hate the current workings of the U.S. Government that they would basically plot an armed insurrection. The most concerning actions, however, were the spitting and racial epithets against Congressmen.

If these were people that had a well thought out agenda, perhaps it might be possible to come to some compromise. But, it seems to me, that their anger and hate really have no object. I think that lends some support to the argument that a part of the underlying motivation, particularly against President Obama, is racial. On the other hand there are a number of other pressures that are forcing susceptible individuals in this direction, not the least of which is not having anything to do with their time, i.e. out of work. In a way it is a perfect storm for craziness.

Actually, as usual, there is some pertinent history here. I refer to the Know Nothing Party:
The Know Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1840s and 1850s. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to U.S. values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, though its efforts met with little success. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class and entirely Protestant membership fragmented over the issue of slavery. Most ended up joining the Republican Party by the time of the 1860 presidential election. (emphasis added)
What, exactly, should be a course of action for someone like myself who sits in a fairly liberal (or, to use the current non-L word, progressive) seat? I am certainly not up for arming myself or fortifying my residence, though I live in a semi rural area that is inundated by guns, ostensibly for hunting.

I suppose that writing (letters to the editor) or other such pursuits might be useful, but probably not. A mark of the current tea bagger is exactly like that of the Party mentioned above, when confronted, they simple say "I know nothing." Oh, one more tidbit from the Wikipedia article:
The party gained wide popularity. According to historian David Harry Bennett, "nativism became a new American rage: Know-Nothing candy, Know-nothing tea, and Know-Nothing toothpicks were manufactured..." Stagecoaches were dubbed "The Know-Nothing, And in Trescott, Maine, a shipowner dubbed a 700-ton freighter, "Know-Nothing." (emphasis added)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

do you have proof of the racial epithets hurled at congressmen? Please post a link to a credible source for validation.