Op-Ed Columnist – Fear Strikes Out – NYTimes.com

Paul Krugman Fear Strikes Out – NYTimes.com gets it exactly correct in the New York Times; the politics of fear (and even hate) have lost.

Some excerpts:

” … The day before Sunday’s health care vote, President Obama gave an unscripted talk to House Democrats. Near the end, he spoke about why his party should pass reform: “Every once in a while a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made … And this is the time to make true on that promise. We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine.”

And on the other side, here’s what Newt Gingrich, the Republican former speaker of the House — a man celebrated by many in his party as an intellectual leader — had to say: If Democrats pass health reform, “They will have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years” by passing civil rights legislation. …”

” … Ronald Reagan famously argued that Medicare would mean the end of American freedom — but always popular once enacted.

But that’s not the point I want to make today. Instead, I want you to consider the contrast: on one side, the closing argument was an appeal to our better angels, urging politicians to do what is right, even if it hurts their careers; on the other side, callous cynicism. Think about what it means to condemn health reform by comparing it to the Civil Rights Act. Who in modern America would say that L.B.J. did the wrong thing by pushing for racial equality? (Actually, we know who: the people at the Tea Party protest who hurled racial epithets at Democratic members of Congress on the eve of the vote.)…”

” … It wasn’t just the death panel smear. It was racial hate-mongering, like a piece in Investor’s Business Daily declaring that health reform is “affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color.” …”

I wish Krugman didn’t get it so right. It saddens me that so many of my neighbors can be swayed with fearful rhetoric (remember the “War on Terror”) or that they don’t repudiate the intolerant and hateful among their ranks.

By the way, here’s what the right wing thinks of another recent racially-charged incident.  Jay Nordlinger at National Review Online says it is not racism on display when a 16-year old boy thought it appropriate to utter racial slurs over a Walmart PA. Rather, he claims that racism doesn’t exist in America anymore, that “We’re a good nation, among the least racist on earth ….” Apparently, Nordlinger has not been to those teabag rallies–you know the ones documented on flickr and to which I linked or the health care protests outside the capital–has he? I see a pattern here–in the persistence of racial slurs. But Nordlinger sees a pattern too. Along with the other folks over at National Review (search on National Review and racism) all this talk about racism is really reverse discrimination–reverse racism–against white men as an aggrieved minority. Or maybe its just another socialist ploy?

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