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Web Letter

Just wanted to say that I think Professor Williams did a superb job of identifying and dissecting the various irrational emotions and apparently unconscious drives behind the opposition to Obama's drive to drastically--i.e., what's needed--change the American healthcare system. (At least I hope he's not going to retreat from that)

Her article read like an eye-witness description of what I saw as I recently watched an almost two-hour "meeting" on CNN between Sen. Mark Warner and a rude, raucous and stunningly uninformed crowd (with a mere handful of exceptions). I was particularly struck by the unspoken but palpable racism-- to what extent conscious or unconscious, I'm not sure.

I also think she got the right balance between the larger minority that has been relentlessly ginned up by hate radio for years so that they've lost all connection with their own rational interests on this issue, and the smaller minorities who have legitimate or at least coherent worries, even if those are not shared by the great majority.

[I don't mind if my e-address is published, and I already get your e-mail newsletter]

Ron Thompson

Fairfax, Va

Sep 7 2009 - 5:01pm

Web Letter

Yes, yes and yes again! Thank you, Patricia Williams, for your common sense, among other things.

Call it "Reverse Nazism," or galloping ignorance--call it what you will. The cacophony, the outbursts at townhall meetings, the strange and sad irony wherein persons who are over 65 and on Medicare find themselves raging aloud against "government control," (i.e., government-funded health plans, like Medicare) seems to me like some new and more virulent strain of American illiteracy.

However, before the more progressive among us counter back at this ill-conceived ranting and raging, it would seem more than prudent for us to "listen," as you suggest, so as at least to understand what/where/how/and from whom the debate has been allowed to devolve into one in which facts and sanity appear to be entirely missing.

Most recently, a man had the tip of his finger bitten off at a healthcare forum. He was of no side or opinion on the issue. He happened to be passing through the place in his city where it was being held (according to the news item I read)--on his way "somewhere else."

I--we--should all be appalled at such stories like the above. But every day another such incident occurs, making the last one seem---well, routine... par for the course... and nothing special.!?

I have to wonder. Has there always been this element of sub-civilized paranoia in the name of "revolt" in our history? Were there, for example, persons among those who cried "tyranny" against England as they hurled tea into Boston Harbor, who participated passionately in the revolt, but had no idea what exactly they were fighting for or against?

Maybe as the US Civil War grew imminent, were there persons adding their voice and vitriol to the conflict and momentum at hand, without knowing what was at stake finally?

Someone somewhere shouts "fire" in a theater...

In short, is some of this crazed but ill-informed "reaction" just what occurs during a time when times, peoples and ideas clash---when some old order finds itself relegated to the periphery?

At the risk of sounding callous towards others who may not have access to information --in this case--about the healthcare reform bill--I find myself wondering: should I be angered... or worried?

If there is reverse-Nazism (and I believe that might sum it up best), is that because of an evil inherent in human beings confronted with distinct challenges to the status quo? Or is that a byproduct of something less heinous, but no less frightening---like ignorance?

At any rate, to at least begin to try to understand the opposition, however coherent or not, seems to me to be of the essence. I haven't heard anyone yet articulate it as Williams has--by noting that there is some real and visceral fear being tapped and manipulated by the "right."

So, thank you for, among other things, including a wisdom elsewhere left out of the cacophony.

Barbara Molloy-Olund

NEON, A Webzine<br />Kirkland, WA

Sep 6 2009 - 4:53am

Web Letter

Some seventy years ago, my memorable civics teacher in juniour high school burned the following into my mind: "My children, whatever pinnacle you reach in life, remember this: the plural noun, people, when used in the singular sense, the people singularly, is a beast--a stupid, savage beast."

If Hitler had the expanse of TV and video that is available today, he would have conquered Europe without a war.

The current demagogues have taken his place.

s. r. winn

Deerfield Beach, FL

Sep 4 2009 - 10:05pm

Web Letter

Now this "smartypants" intrudes into the house on the hill yet again. What arrogance. Doesn't anyone have the decency and backbone to tell him "no"? Additionally he is planning to intrude into classrooms throughout the USA and steal teaching time in order to deliver yet another political speech to impressionable youth. The nutcase currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in DC believes he is more important than "reading, writing, and 'rithmetic." HE is not. The theft of thousands of pupil/teacher-hours to make a political speech to a captive group is reprehensible, arrogant and inexcusable. The School Boards must insist the broadcast be blacked out and not allowed into local public school buildings. At the most liberal view of this, such a broadcast might be limited to one area, a gym or auditorium, and only those with signed permission slips allowed into the venue. If no permission slip is produced no admission is allowed. Sort of a "PG-13" rated event, isn't it?

Tucano Fulano

Big Bear, CA

Sep 4 2009 - 1:16pm

Web Letter

It's interesting how the anti-reform, anti-Obama activists have chosen Nazism and Hitler as the appendages to stick to President Obama. Here we have the curious scene of right-wing protesters accusing the President of being even more right wing---totalitarian right wing. I know, I know that Limbaugh, Beck and Jonah Goldberg are trying to revise history to mean that Nazism is an outgrowth of liberals and progressives, and that Hitler was a liberal, don't you know. Such buffoonery is accepted only among their own kind.

But the tactic is useful. Who among us does not hate Hitler and Nazism, and what they did? (Sorry, Pat Buchanan.) Everyone can coalesce against a tyrant like Hitler; therefore, if they tag Obama with that label they hope others will follow their lead. Either they don't know or they purposefully ignore the full definition of Hitler. Where is Obama sending Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah Witnesses to the gas chambers?

They have homogenized the memory of Hitler to mean just "totalitarian," without all the accoutrements of genocide and war. I've seen it in other scenarios.

In my neck of the woods there is a lot of agriculture. The EPA was involved because of the over-use and spillage of persticides and herbicides. Farmers started to sport bumper stickers that said You Think Hitler Was Bad, Try the EPA.

I would think to myself, did the EPA invade other countries? Are they committing genocide?

I would like to think that the anti-Obama crowd does not really appreciate what a "Hitler" would be like; certainly, Obama no way is close to that.

Or could it mean that they do know, but they still want people to think Obama is a Hitler.

Alejandro Fernandez

El Centro, Calif

Sep 4 2009 - 1:13pm

Web Letter

Hmm. Interesting arcticle by Professor Williams. What struck me the most, however, is that her argument against the two opposing minorities, libertarians and pro-lifers, can very appropriately be used against proponents of same-sex marriage. Now, although the gay community may have many hetero sympathizers, the hardcore militants themselves remain a highly self-conscious minority.

John Molina

Chula Vista, CA

Sep 3 2009 - 8:22pm

Web Letter

Without question there has been a great deal of hysteria created by confusion and fear in the debate over healthcare. However, there is no confusion over the fact that this president tried to tell the American people, "Have I got a great deal for you," then handed us a 1,000-page contract written in the densest legalese, and added, "I hate to rush you but you've got to sign it tonight, before I go on vacation."

Robert Tartell

Houston, TX

Sep 2 2009 - 8:09pm

Web Letter

"Let me acknowledge the genuine ideological and moral misgivings behind some of the protests. Many libertarians hate anything the government does, no matter how monopolistic or quasi-governmental the power of pharmaceutical and insurance companies." There's not a libertarian alive who wouldn't want to begin the desocialization of medicine by separating the insurance cartels from the State. Big Pharma loves Big Government!

Barry Loberfeld

ABCDunlimited.com/ideas<br />Commack , NY

Sep 1 2009 - 8:55am

Web Letter

I like this essay, and for one simple reason: Ms. Williams uses language to remind us that language is our only defense against sheer ignorance... and that language is being used against us to both foster and foment the worst possible misconceptions we might have about our future.

Ivan Hentschel

Austin, TX

Aug 31 2009 - 10:15pm

Web Letter

The laughably stupid extremists who have gone around cartooning the Bushies and the Obamaites as Nazis have seriously undermined their own ridiculous positions. America tends to elect from the mild center-right (Dubya) to the mild center-left (Obama.) Pretending otherwise does not help.

I suspect that the next president will be in the moderate-right mold of a Reagan or Dubya.

John D. Froelich

upper darby, PA

Aug 30 2009 - 11:45pm