Tea party protesters call Georgia's John Lewis 'nigger'I have no doubt that someone said what it says they said. But there were 15,000 (lowest estimate by attender - 40,000 (highest estimate by attender) people there! There were no fights, no rioting, no fire, no violence. A handful of people said some nasty words to someone who has been ignoring them and dismissing them, even though he supposedly represents them. If you're going to make a big deal about the "ugliness", show the beauty too. People and families have travelled across the country on their own dime to get heard by their representatives. They're holding their leaders accountable to them, insisting that they hear them. If they won't answer their phone, or come to their town halls, then they'll come to you. This is not going away anytime soon.
My emphasis in bold and my comments in [brackets].
WASHINGTON — Demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol , angry over the proposed health care bill, shouted "nigger" Saturday at U.S. Rep. John Lewis , a Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who was nearly beaten to death during an Alabama march in the 1960s.
The protesters also shouted obscenities at other members of the Congressional Black Caucus [I'm sure it wasn't limited to the Black Caucus. If you're angry and being ignored, many will resort to getting louder and calling names] lawmakers said.
"They were shouting, sort of harassing," Lewis said. "But, it's okay, I've faced this before. It reminded me of the 60s. It was a lot of downright hate and anger and people being downright mean."
Lewis said he was leaving the Cannon office building across from the Capitol when protesters shouted "Kill the bill, kill the bill," Lewis said.
"I said 'I'm for the bill, I support the bill, I'm voting for the bill'," Lewis said. [well, that's helpful. incite them even more. At least you listened enough to abruptly confront them]
A colleague who was accompanying Lewis said people in the crowd responded by saying "Kill the bill, then the n-word."
"It surprised me that people are so mean and we can't engage in a civil dialogue and debate," Lewis said. [you mean it surprised you that so many want to engage in civil dialogue with their representatives. With all due respect, don't forget this started with letters, phone calls, and town halls. Your arrogance and dismissal is what has driven protesters to the street, yelling as loud as they can b/c they just want to be heard....and listened to. Engage in the dialogue. Don't tell us what's good for us.]
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver , D- Mo. , said he was a few yards behind Lewis and distinctly heard "nigger."
"It was a chorus," Cleaver said. "In a way, I feel sorry for those people who are doing this nasty stuff - they're being whipped up. I decided I wouldn't be angry with any of them."
Protestors also used a slur as they confronted Rep. Barney Frank , D- Mass. , an openly gay member of Congress . A writer for Huffington Post said the crowd called Frank a "faggot." [yes, that's much worse than calling me, 3000 miles away sitting at my computer reacting to the direction of my country a "mean, uncivil, hateful, racist, ugly - all in this article - and there are more like stupid, idiot, radical, unhinged and so on".]
Frank told the Boston Globe that the incident happened as he was walking from the Longworth office building to the Rayburn office building, both a short distance from the Capitol. Frank said the crowd consisted of a couple of hundred of people and that they referred to him as 'homo.'
"I'm disappointed with the unwillingness to be civil," Frank told the Globe. "I was, I guess, surprised by the rancor. [why?! It's been out there for a nearly a year! Get your nose level and look around.] What it means is obviously the health care bill is proxy for a lot of other sentiments, some of which are perfectly reasonable, but some of which are not."
"People out there today, on the whole, were really hateful," [no, just really mad and angry] Frank said. "The leaders of this movement have a responsibility to speak out more."[you see, sir, that's your mistake. There are not leaders b/c this is true grassroots. You should applaud the peaceful assembly to make a point.]
Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the Capitol on Saturday as the House Democratic leadership worked to gather enough votes to enact a health care overhaul proposal that has become the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's domestic agenda. Most were affiliated with so-called tea party organizations that originally sprang up during last summer's protests of the health care proposals. [actually, it started before that, if you were watching]
Heated debate has surrounded what role race plays in the motivations of the tea party demonstrators. During protests last summer, demonstrators displayed a poster depicting Obama as an African witch doctor complete with headdress, above the words "OBAMACARE coming to a clinic near you." Former President Jimmy Carter asserted in September that racism was a major factor behind the hostility that Obama's proposals had faced.
The claim brought angry rebuttals from Republicans.
On Saturday, Frank, however, said he was sorry Republican leaders didn't do more to disown the protesters. [don't worry, they'll disown you, soon]
Some Republicans "think they are benefiting from this rancor," he said.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D- S.C. , said Saturday's ugliness underscored for him that the health care overhaul isn't the only motivation for many protesters.
"I heard people saying things today I've not heard since March 15th, 1960 , when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus," Clyburn said. "This is incredible, shocking to me." [well, you're right that healthcare isn't the only thing they're mad about - but it ISN'T racial issues, either]
He added, "A lot of us have said for a long time that none of this is about healthcare at all. It's about extending a basic fundamental right to people who are less powerful." [I had to read that many times before I was certain what his point was. For me, the fundamental right of the less powerful is peaceful assembly.]
( James Rosen contributed to this story.)
Aha! It's much later now than when I wrote the bulk of this post, but I had to add this comment by Glen Renyolds from Instapundit. It makes me feel good.
And several readers note a conundrum for the media — since they ignored the anti-ObamaCare protests, it’ll be awkward for them to suddenly start running stories about charges of racism at those nonexistent protests.I'll end my browsing of this before-the-vote-counting stories until tomorrow. That's when it really counts.