A crazy country?


Last week ended with an anti-Health Care Reform Rally at the State Capitol in St. Paul. I wasn’t there, and the local news channel in early evening gave the event only cursory attention and announced that there were perhaps 100 people at the rally – pretty dismal considering the nice weather for this time of year. The visual of the rally supported the low crowd estimate.

Later came a blog post which speaks very well for itself about the event, and the intention by organizers of the rally to estimate 4,000 in attendance. There is no shame when it comes to propaganda. (The estimate of several hundred attending, posted in the blog, is probably closest to accurate, but accuracy is of little interest in such matters.)

Probably Monday, I will get a post from my local Congresswoman, organizer of the event at the State Capitol, and my guess is that it will say thousands attended, perhaps even the fantasy number 4,000. I actually look forward to seeing her spin (lie). Whatever she says, whenever she says it, about the crowd, I will insert here, as well as other reports about the mythical marching millions. [UPDATE 7:45 a.m. Sunday morning: St. Paul Pioneer Press, in a hard-to-find Associated Press clip on page 2B: “A rally Saturday against a health care overhaul drew hundreds of people to the Minnesota Capitol.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, in a longer article, with photos, on page B4: headline “Thousands went to State Capitol“…in the body, “Rally organizers said 4,000 people attended, but Capitol police estimated the crowd at 2,000 or fewer.“]

A most telling (and discouraging) comment in the blog entry at the Health Care event was the comment of a mother of several who admitted they didn’t have insurance, yet they were rallying against health care reform.

I wish she were the odd exception, but there are lots and lots of people who for some reason are being convinced to lobby against their own best interests in this society. They are – We are – apparently easy to manipulate.

During the same evening news period came a report from Texas about arch-conservatives successfully revising many long-established portions of the Texas school children’s curriculum to mesh with their own ideological beliefs. (See a Commentary here.) With curriculum comes textbooks, and Texas is a big market, and textbook publishers will tend to revise their texts to fit the Texas market. This is not a new strategy: some predecessors of the current ideologues began pursuing this idea years ago, and now, at least for the short term, have been successful.

All of this happened AFTER I had my own op ed published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune this week. I submitted the column because I am seeing what appears to be an organized though covert attack on basic rights of organized teachers, and it has brought back memories of parents who were teachers and worked in the days before there were any teacher rights. I lived in those “good old days” that weren’t really all that good.

In the midst of bold (some would say too timid) initiatives to make changes in basic policy like reforming health care, there is a cacophony from a truly radical right wing, demanding that we go back to failed policies of the past few years. The base of support for this initiative is, ironically, the ultimate victims of those urging that change be resisted.

We have no choice but to be vigilant, courageous and active.