The Wealthy Elites Play the Racists for Pawns at a Town Hall Meeting in Maryland
On Monday night, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin held a town hall meeting at Towson University, just north of Baltimore.
I was at the protest before Monday night's town hall meeting on healthcare hosted by Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin. Here are my impressions of last night:
I went to the rally and got there about 5:35 –already there were signs posted saying the event (a huge line already waiting to get in) had reached capacity. I hoped members of Healthcare-Now of MD were there early.
The organized right-wingers were there in droves – I estimate (and I am not the best guesser) at least 1,000, maybe more. They were bused in from all over MD from what I was hearing. There were maybe 500 of us, perhaps more –again a guesstimate. Osler Drive was lined up on both sides for a very long way but the majority of them were the right-wingers. They were all along the west side of Osler and a good deal of the east side where we were. I’ll be interested to read the estimates from a more reliable source than myself.
I have never seen such hatred, vitriol and racism in all my life – and I do not say that lightly. It made me physically ill – I could stand the heat, but I couldn’t stand the hatred and racism. We all read about it, we know it – but having it in your face in such large and angry numbers is hard to deal with. There were posters of Obama as Hitler, the Democratic Nazi Party, Keep Your Laws Off My Body (except for abortion – I asked) and various and sundry examples of ugliness. Some Lyndon LaRouche supporters along with anti-immigration and tort reform. Also a lot of “killing the elderly, euthanasia” type signs. And of course, our favorite – “No Socialism.” As I looked across Osler at these people, they were screaming and angry – and they often came over to where we were to provoke us and to out-shout us. The comments to me as I walked up and down with my signs were appalling. Just ugly, ugly, ugly.
I am telling you this for a reason.
Folks, this is NOT about healthcare or anything remotely resembling policy or any particular issue. This is about the naked anger of the right wing being out of power and not accepting a black man as President combined with their own racism – it’s thinly veiled at best, but it’s racism. I venture to say that this is the least thinly veiled racism I’ve seen for a long time – they have taken those gloves off.
When people say “I work, I’m not paying for anyone else” – that’s about African-Americans and Latinos - period. I stated so to a couple of young women and of course they countered me with extreme anger and then one took my picture to show her children what’s wrong with America (I worry about that – these people love to post pictures of people they want to make targets). Later I asked one older woman very calmly – she was calm herself – if she cared about other people besides her own family and loved ones. She looked me in the eyes and said “NO, I don’t”. I was lost for words. I heard over and over people saying “I work, I don’t want to pay for anyone else.”
And a lot of “healthcare is a privilege, not a right” – “ you people just keep wanting more” - a lot in that vein. And of course excoriating “socialism” was a favorite. I asked one man, who was screaming at us how he could live with so much hatred every day. He whipped around and yelled at me “I keep it coming every day” – he was so angry I thought he was going to have some kind of attack. These are people we see on the street every day, I’ve worked with them – and when I say they are filled with hate, I do not exaggerate. I finally had to leave around 7pm – I couldn’t take any more of the ugliness. I was literally sick to my gut.
Make no mistake – these people are lying and have been told to lie. They have no facts and are not dissuaded by those who do and want to discuss them. There is NO engaging these people – they are way beyond that. That’s not what they’re there for. That’s why I say we must stop discussing policy and start discussing strategy and tactics.
In my opinion, we (the left, the progressives and the Congresspeople who are with us) are making a mistake by ignoring these people. This is not about the people at these events; it’s about who is controlling them. And that is the wealthy elites who will do anything, including destroying what is left of the democracy we remember, to protect what they have, the corporations who control Congress and who actually rule this country and the extremists who are driven by hatred and racism. They are working together and if we do not develop an effective strategy and new tactics to counter them, this country – and us – are doomed.
There is an excellent article on AlterNet regarding fascism. If you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to do so. We have all talked about this over these past years and we all worry about it but I think this article is absolutely right. And I think we better pay attention to what is happening right underneath our noses. It might be reassuring to say that these people are fringe, the minority, etc. But it’s not just them – it’s the most powerful moneyed interests in this country who are bankrolling and controlling them. The angry mobs are the storm troopers and they are the angriest people I’ve ever seen. They are happy to be controlled and happy to do the bidding of their masters. In my opinion they would be happy to do away with the likes of us.
Think we aren’t about to lose what’s left of this democracy? I urge you to think again. And then I urge all of us to rethink our strategy and tactics. The first thing we need to do is call what is happening by its right name – fascism – over and over again. And we need to call out the corporations and bad actors who are bankrolling these people.
Here is another good article which mentions a Baltimore law firm's involvement with Dick Armey and its lobbying efforts to kill healthcare reform – not to mention the enormous sums of money they rake in doing it. Scroll down to the “FreedomWorks and the K Street Lobbyist” paragraph for info on a once-venerable Baltimore law firm. This is the kind of thing that needs to be exposed in the media and talked about. The only way the media will discuss it is if we discuss it constantly.
I hope the report from inside Sen. Cardin’s meeting is more positive than mine! I’m posting this because what I witnessed tonight must be a wake-up call to us – not something to ignore. This will not go away – and indeed will only get worse.