I come from a part of the US that's full of tea-bagger types - middle- to upper-income white Republicans who think America sucks now but was a great place when minorities knew their place, who think they're the only people who work in the US, and who are paranoid that their tax money is going to pay for free gifts for the undeserving leeches on the system (who are everyone who isn't like them). So it really just sounds like these folks are letting their true colors show on the eve of health care reform passing:
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.
The racial aspect of the tea bagger movement has been apparent to most people on the outside looking in, and they've been calling Barney Frank the faggot who ruined the economy since 2008. The only thing that's changed is now they're using the word "faggot."
Despite the right's best attempts to paint all school teachers are aspiring leftists, I remember mostly rightwing indoctrination in school. I had one teacher who gave me a look and said "You believe in that?" in seventh grade when I mentioned continental drift. My fifth grade teacher tried to convince us that women shouldn't be allowed in the military because then no one would care for babies. My world history teacher in high school listed "homosexuals in the military" as one of the reasons the Roman Empire fell.
One in particular stands out: my eighth grade US history teacher. He was told us repeatedly that every nation has a period in history they want to return to, and America's was the 1950's. He was against big government, social engineering, TV, the usual. I remember once he lectured us on how banks "create" wealth, with a long explanation, that really sounded more like banks helping to create the environment in which workers create wealth while the banks just take a cut for advancing the money needed to prime the pump, but such subtlety seemed to get lost in the explanation and got me dismissed as a kid who wasn't ready to learn real economics when I pointed that out. He also was convinced that the US was more economically prosperous in the 50's because people just worked harder. WWII devastating Europe's economy and infrastructure, high union membership, and a much larger income tax on the highest tax bracket, apparently, had nothing to do with a more economically secure middle class, apparently.
This guy wasn't a talking points addict, a morality enforcer, or a Republican partisan (at least in class) like the big name conservatives of the Bush years. It was generally hard to fit his politics into the cannon of movement conservatism until all these tea baggers and Glenn Beck came along. The same confused explanations, faux intellectualism, aggrandizement of everything white over everything that's not... it's all fairly familiar. I remember saying that my staunchly conservative US history teacher several years later seemed like liberal revisionist history compared to the earlier teacher, but instead it was just the fact that the latter, while having different opinions than I did, lived in the same universe.
Conservatism as identity politics instead of just moralizing and trying to get tax cuts is back in full force. Like everything the right accuses the left of doing, the right already practices and does it more. As Amanda Marcotte said a while back (her site's down right now so I can't get the link), the Founding Fathers stuff isn't about an ideological alignment with those folks, obviously. It's about the fact that they were white male landowners, and they were in charge. To them, it really doesn't matter what they were doing; they were good people and whatever emanated from them was, by extension, good.
My eighth grade US history teacher said as much once, relating a Benjamin Franklin quotation that if you elect good people to office, it doesn't matter what they believe, they'll make good laws. I don't know whether Franklin actually said that since it was so paraphrased and I heard it over a decade ago that I couldn't find the quotation now, but the fact that an archetypal tea bagger liked it and thought it came from a Founding Father says a lot. It's not their policy or their ideas or their interests that matter, it's who they are. How is that not the exact caricature of affirmative action that these folks are always painting?
They're just reverting to their original form before forty years of Religious Right power turned them all into church scolds. They know something's wrong, so it must be that the wrong people are in charge. The fact that they're blaming a gay Congressional representative or a black president makes sense in the context of their mistaken belief that the reason the Great Recession happened is because of social spending on lazy and immoral minorities. Rich, white, male bankers? How could they do wrong? They criticize the bailouts in the abstract, but whenever they get more specific about why they happened, it always seems to be about Freddie and Fannie, lenders to the poor, the working class, and minorities, protected by Barney Frank who just wanted to practice sodomy with Herb Moses.
Their entire message when it comes to health care is that the government shouldn't have to pay for the leeches' health care, that people who don't have access to health care now should either go back to their country, get a job, or stop getting sick, dammit. They're worried about "rationing" happening because there won't be enough doctors to take care of everyone, a not much more polite way of saying they don't want to have to share the health care system with those who are currently uninsured.
And these are the same people who were trying to rush glasses of water into a hospital for Terri Schiavo years after she was brain dead. It's no surprise that they're just shouting epithets now.
Update: ABC got video of Frank being called a faggot:
Is this how shallow our discourse on the topic is? No one is happy with the slurs being tossed around, not Dems, not the GOP, not the tea baggers, not the people shouting the slurs themselves.... Everyone agrees it's wrong so there's really nothing to see here! And of course it's distracting from the real issues, which are just about people who don't want the undeserving to get access to health care. It has nothing to do with racism and homophobia.
They also bleeped out "faggot." Does that make sense when that is the story?