OPINION | Racism plain and simple: The decline of civility

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Am I the only one who is fed up with the media coverage that the Obama haters have enjoyed over the past weeks and months? It appears that the “silly season” of the town hall meetings of August is carrying over into September and will probably continue well beyond. 

The ill-informed, intellectually challenged followers of right-wing demagogues are still foaming at the mouth over the outcome of the presidential election. Be prepared, folks! As long as Barack Obama is President of the United States, the McCain/Palin road kill will not rest.

They will continue to do anything (and I do mean anything) to discredit him and his administration and to carry out Rush Limbaugh’s avowed wish for President Obama to fail. 

By refusing to seriously challenge the outrageous claims that the president is a socialist whose agenda is a governmental takeover of health care, the media has contributed to the circus-like atmosphere and provided tacit legitimacy to the boisterous demonstrations that were proven to have been orchestrated and paid for by special interest groups. 

The pathetic cries by some of the town hall protesters to tearfully explain that they just “wanted their country back” said it all. These were expressions of bigotry and racism, plain and simple. These people are in a psychological state of culture shock and either can’t or refuse to accept the fact that the president and leader of the free world is a Black man.   

 The outright lies of media outlets like Fox News and right wing radio, sanctioned by elected GOP officials who know better, undoubtedly serve to further incinerate the already simmering hatred. The racial overtones of the ugly, vile attacks against the First Family now circulating on the Internet and going out over the airwaves are disgusting and repulsive, to say the least.

Just how do we explain the blatant idiocy and hypocrisy we have witnessed? Consider the so-called “birthers” who continue to insist that the president was not born in Hawaii, thereby questioning the legitimacy of his presidency. And then there are the purveyors of the vicious lies about “death panels,” thanks to Alaska’s genius, former governor Sarah Palin. The cynical suggestion that the proposed healthcare legislation making its way through Congress will allow for euthanizing the elderly is reprehensible. 

Need I say more?

But just when we think we’ve seen and heard it all, and that it couldn’t possibly get any worse, we’re confronted with the lunacy of parents railing against the president making a speech to school children across the country encouraging them to work hard and to stay in school. The ridiculous accusations from the right suggested that the president’s motive was a subversive attempt to indoctrinate young minds to embrace his socialist policies. 

Where was this parental concern and opposition to similar speeches delivered to school children by Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush? Have these hypocrites no shame? 

I think it’s safe to say that no president in recent memory has been the object of the kind of vicious attacks and blatant disrespect that we’ve witnessed during the Obama presidency.  There can be no better example of this phenomenon than the rude outburst by Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina during the president’s recent address to a joint session of Congress.
 
Heckling the president and calling him a liar in this setting is an unprecedented breech of congressional decorum. Such public displays of disrespect and outright contempt for the president in the halls of Congress should absolutely not be tolerated. 

Permitting elected officials to get away with this kind of despicable behavior only serves to encourage more of the same. Rep. Wilson’s apology aside, he should be held accountable and censured.

It should be crystal clear by now that there is no appeasing the Republicans in Congress, some of whom have openly declared their intent to bring the president down. The reality is that despite his repeated efforts to reach across the aisle and bridge the political divide, it is unlikely that this president can ever say or do anything to break through the impenetrable wall of hatred on the extreme right. 

What people of good will must do, however, is push back and always challenge the hate-mongers by exposing their vicious tactics for what they are: racism plain and simple.
 
Mary Nicholson Grice lives in Mendota Heights. She welcomes reader responses to magriffe2@gmail.com.

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