I sat here quietly last week while people claimed that the President's speech to school children, in which he told them that they should stay in school and work hard, was really an effort at communist, socialist, Nazi indoctrination and brain washing. All summer, I've tried to take on the lies about health care reform on the merits, explaining the draft legislation, that it doesn't create "death panels," that it doesn't cover illegal immigrants (indeed, one version expressly excludes them, as does Senator Baucus's outline), that the public option is just that -- an option to stand alongside private plans -- and not a government take-over of health care. I've tried really hard to stick to the facts, stick to the merits.
But the heckling during last night's speech by the President has me fuming. How dare Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) yell out during a speech by the President of the United States "YOU LIE" in the great Chamber of the Congress of the United States? How dare he? No apology makes up for the disrespect he showed the President of the United States.
When "we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter," Obama said, "we don't merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves."
I'm just going to say it. What has been going on over the past several months, calling the President awful names, painting a Hitler mustache on his picture, OUTRIGHT LYING about the health reform proposals, and accusing the President of indoctrinating school children -- actually keeping children from hearing a speech that even Newt Gingrich said should be required for all school children -- and this heckle, this name-calling, on the Floor of the US Congress, well, in my view, this doesn't happen to a white President. This is racist.
I believe that the summer shouters and name-callers were among the people who want to believe that the President wasn't really born in the United States (known as "birthers"). I believe that these folks were freaked out by having an African-American President in the first place, and they are looking for ways to twist and distort to undermine him. They believe he is Muslim although he has attended Christian churches for his entire adults life. They believe he is a communist even though he hasn't given them ONE reason to say that. They LIE about death panels that absolutely never existed in any draft of the legislation. They have spread LIES that have caused fear among senior citizens with NO REGARD WHATSOEVER for the truth. They made a huge to-do about the speech to school children -- the same sort of speech that has been given by both Presidents Bush and President Clinton -- that it was communist indoctrination!
And today, there are comments on Politico and other sites saying he's a communist. He's a liar. He should resign. Because he wants to make sure most people in the United States have access to health care? Really?
Disagreement does not give a member of the Congress of the United States the idea that heckling the President, calling him a liar, is acceptable behavior. Honest differences of opinion don't lead to Hitler mustaches.
Let me be VERY clear. I will debate health reform with anybody on the merits. I respect the right of people to disagree. I also respect the fact that not everybody is going to take the time to read the bills and look for the death panel language that's not there, or see that there's no coverage of illegal immigrants, and no federal funding of abortions. I'm willing to take the time and find you the language of the bills that show that these are flat-out lies. And I'll debate whether we should have a public option (a choice, not a government take-over) with anybody who's inclined to want to have an honest conversation.
But if you are a member of Congress, you are obligated to read the bills. You must know it's a lie that they would cover illegal immigrants. And even if you don't, you must know that it is nothing short of outrageous to call the President a liar during a session of Congress.
The lines of decency have shifted for this President. And yes, I believe it is fueled by racism. Let me be very clear again -- I do NOT believe that everybody who opposes health care reform is a racist -- not by a long shot. That is not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that there are people in this country who still can't get over the fact that we have an African-American President. They think they have a right to challenge his birthplace even after being presented with a certified birth certificate from the State of Hawaii. They think they can call him anything from Hitler to communist, knowing it's just not true. They scare parents into thinking he is indoctrinating their children. And they call him a liar when it's they who are lying.
I simply do not believe this sort of attack -- this sort of slanderous, false, malicious, fear-mongering -- would happen to a white President. Jennifer