During protests against health care reform, anti-health care activists used racial and homophobic slurs against members of Congress, and one protester was arrested for spitting on Congressman John Lewis of Georgia.
Right Wing leaders have attempted to distance themselves from the incidents, but their denials would be more convincing if inflaming racial resentment weren't such a central strategy in their campaign against President Obama and his agenda.
As People For the American Way reported in "Right Wing Watch In Focus -- Right Plays the Race Card," incendiary racial rhetoric has long been a part of the Right's crusade against health care:
At first glance, health care reform would not seem as likely an issue for racial wedge politics. But racially charged arguments have been made alongside the by-now familiar charges of government takeovers, socialism, fascism, and death panels. Investors Business Daily and Fox Nation teamed up to portray health care reform as "affirmative action on steroids" and to suggest that reform is actually a back-door way to implement reparations for slavery:
The racial grievance industry under health care reform could be calling the shots in the emergency room, the operating room, the medical room, even medical school. As Terence Jeffrey, editor at large of Human Events puts it, not only our wealth, but also our health will be redistributed.
At the recent How to Take Back America conference organized by far-right doyenne Phyllis Schlafly and her heir-apparent,right-wing radio host and activist Janet Folger Porter, a panelist attacked health care reform saying it would amount to a reenactment of slavery by our first black president, this time with doctors being enslaved. Bishop Harry Jackson, the Religious Right's favorite African American minister, has denounced health care reform proposals that he claims would divert health care resources from wealthier to poorer Americans as "reverse classism."
Two academics, Marc Hetherington of Vanderbilt University and Jonathan Weiler of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, recently found an "extraordinarily strong correlation between racial resentment of blacks and opposition to health care reform," a relationship that did not exist during the Clinton health care debate.
If the GOP and the Right Wing want to be able to credibly disavow racism, they should stop associating so closely with those who peddle it.