Eugene “Bull” Connor would have been proud of some of the language being used by Tea Party protesters fighting against health care reform.
Tea Party protesters, using racist and homophobic language to attack men like Rep. John Lewis (pictured) and Rep. Barney Frank (among others), went on an attack that was regretfully reminiscent of the Jim Crow era in the United States of America (a chapter many in this country thought was long gone). Rep. Lewis was called a “nigger” by members of the crowd while Rep. Frank was called a “faggot” by Tea Party protesters. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver was spat on by a protester. Sadly, this was 2010 and not 1910. This was not 1957 when the Little Rock Nine were attacked as they did their part to desegregate Little Rock Central High School (where they were viciously confronted by racist protesters). This was 2010 with a distinguished civil rights leader like Rep. Lewis treated in a way that was a chilling and painful reminder of the hatred of the Jim Crow era.
A staffer for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) had been spat on by a protestor. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called a ‘ni–er.’ And Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a “faggot,” as protestors shouted at him with deliberately lisp-y screams. Frank, approached in the halls after the president’s speech, shrugged off the incident.
But Clyburn was downright incredulous, saying he had not witnessed such treatment since he was leading civil rights protests in South Carolina in the 1960s.
“It was absolutely shocking to me,” Clyburn said, in response to a question from the Huffington Post. “Last Monday, this past Monday, I stayed home to meet on the campus of Claflin University where fifty years ago as of last Monday… I led the first demonstrations in South Carolina, the sit ins… And quite frankly I heard some things today I have not heard since that day. I heard people saying things that I have not heard since March 15, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus.”
This is sadly indicative of the hatred coming from some on the far right who have simply come unhinged since the election of President Obama, the first black man to be elected president of the United States of America.
Rep. Lewis had this to say about the racial slurs he was subjected to after leaving a health care reform meeting on Capitol Hill.
Civil rights icon and veteran Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, said anti-health care bill protesters Saturday repeatedly yelled the “N” word at him as he left a heath care meeting and walked to the Capitol.
“I haven’t seen heard anything like this in more than 40 years, maybe 45.” Lewis said. “Since the march from Selma to Montgomery really.”
“Yeah, but it’s okay,” Lewis added. “I’ve faced this before. So, it reminded me of the 60′s. There’s a lot of downright hate and anger and people are just being downright mean.”
Rep. Lewis truly is a civil rights icon who has fought for justice before and will continue the fight. I doubt it was accidental that these Tea Party people went after him knowing what he represents as far as civil rights. That is what makes it all the more disturbing.
It’s a shame more conservatives (some have been forced to) are not stepping forward to condemn these kinds of racist attacks.
UPDATE: For those of you who wonder why I am always so critical of RNC Chairman Michael Steele, this is a good example. Appearing on Meet the Press, Steele referred to protesters who made racist and homophobic statements as: “a handful of people who just got stupid.” That is disgracefully inadequate on the part of Michael Steele, but I doubt it is the first time he has been thought of as inadequate.