Since the election but really finding its stride this summer, the GOP/right has found its voice in some of the most scary demogagic race- baiting the country has experienced since the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of the mid 1960s, and busing crisis of the 1970s.
Our president is being depicted on posters as an African tribesman w/a bone thru his nose; as Hitler, Stalin; as someone who wants to kill old people and disabled babies. He was forced to open a recent press conference by saying. No, we are not trying to kill grandma.” as John Stewart observed, if this is your opening line, your inspirational moment for reform has passed.
The recent Gates-gate had police arresting an african american home owner in cambridge for having entered his own home and then arresting the cop who arrested him to the white house for a beer.
And consider the Sotomayor nomination battle that pitched the most experienced nominee to the court in generations against cries that she had not proven herself as fit to serve because of one perfectly appropriate comment she made in terms of empowering the Latino community to serve in the field of law. Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” comment became the meme pushed ad-nauseum by the 24/7 news cycle, that eventually forced her to recant by insisting she believes “wise latinas” are no better than wise white guys. Absurd to have to even say such a thing.
This discussion barely conceals the incredible fear of a small and shrinking number of aging whites about looming demographic changes in the country– the fear that one day soon whites will not longer comprise the majority–
Suffice it to say, this formula of scare and attack became clear during the current health care debate, as richly described recently by Rachel Maddow. Right wing activists and self appointed leaders 1) fabricate wildly distorted untruths designed to scare core followers (ex. Sotomayor or Obama for that matter don’t like white people); use the media and corporate funded and constructed faux grass roots (astro turf) orgs to whip up the hysteria and unleash small and unrepresentative but angry and intense crowds–teabagging; town halls…; then GOP leadership and MSM observe a populist uprising that they insist represents the fears of most americans; mainstream conservative dems and moderate repubs take notice and feel intimidated; their support for reform weakens…and the cycle continues
Along the way, facts get no play for one key reason: the right has no agenda of their own other than their desire to defeat/eradicate Obama at all cost, which includes Sotomayor, health care and whatever lays in waiting, immigration reform? It’s all the same.
Thus it matters little that Obama is compared to Hitler/ fascism/ socialism. anyism… or Sotomayor to Lucy Ricardo. The purpose is to destroy an agenda. It is nihilistic, and as Howard Dean has observed, it is self defeating. The GOP core is shrinking with each death panel and birther fabrication.
The consequences however could be quite real and long lasting. The seem to be forcing the voices of reform to compromise beyond what is necessary, thus subverting good faith efforts to address really difficult and comples social problems in society.
It is also whipping up latent and not so latent racism that is playing out in increasingly violent ways, which is something that should concern everyone.
Our president may want to act as if we live in a post racial society, but is being confronted w/ a much different reality, to our chagrin.