It’s not anger, it’s fear

“If you choke on your shoe during a speech in the House of Representatives, you’ll be whisked away to Walter Reed, and specialists will extract your hoof from your mouth and your head from your colon and clean you up and all for a tiny annual premium. It does not behoove men who are enjoying a huge pork sandwich to deny a few pork rinds to others and to grin in the process.” From a blog by Garrison Keeler on Salon.com

The tax day demonstrations were another manifestation of the “anger” and paranoia sweeping our country, and the hypocrisy of the speakers. I’m tired of hearing things like “America is Gone.” I believe that this “anger” directed toward individuals and/or agencies does not really stem from the “issues” as they’re presented, but from a deep seated fear of the future when the population of this country will no longer be majority white.

It’s scary being a minority. I can understand fear. I grew up Jewish in a Chicago neighborhood that was situated only one mile from the headquarters of the American Nazi Party. As a child, I was spit on, taunted and even had to defend myself with my fists. There were phone calls to my house and we endured many acts of vandalism.

But now you object: the rhetoric these days, it’s not about race; most people aren’t racist. Let’s go deeper. Let’s ignore the most outrageous of the comments that are making the news, and focus on the “issues” that are brought up. Again and again, you hear that people aren’t “real” Americans, or that America is being destroyed, or “they” want to take away the “real” America. If you do any amount of fact checking you will find that the reasons given aren’t based on facts and that the examples they use to back up their claims conflict with the historical reality.

For instance, let’s take the Leave it to Beaver era, which some refer to as a time of the  “real America.” An era when women were supposed to stay at home, or relegated to the most menial jobs if they worked, when black people were prevented from voting and had to use separate water fountains, and — this is never mentioned — when the tax rate for the richest people was at 95%.

There is a great uproar about taxes. Let’s look at taxes. In the 1950s, the richest were taxed at 95%.  It’s way, way below that now, but you’d never know it from the speakers on Cable TV, talk radio, blogs or signs held up by demonstrators. For them, it all just happened yesterday. Although when polled by CBS and the NY Times, the majority of Tea Party supporters stated that their taxes are fair, they still complain with 25% of them saying that the tax money is going to the “poor” and to “black people.”  How come this didn’t bring them into the streets in 2002, but only now, when 95% of Americans just got a tax cut?

The angry speakers often cite examples of earlier times, choosing scenarios they think fit the best,  but in fact, although President Reagan lowered tax rates (mostly on the rich) somewhat, his adminstration then incurred a big deficit which is another topic that the very same folk are screaming about. And in the 80s, tax rate was still way higher than it is today.

Obama has been going after big corporations for sending their operations off shore where they pay no tax. I don’t hear screaming about Exxon not paying tax, I just hear anti-Obama rhetoric, that he wants to spread the wealth around. It’s not fair that corporations or people who have huge incomes should pay more tax? Maybe they should just keep the billions and buy more yachts with it. Trust me, you won’t be invited for a cruise.  And don’t feel too bad about the wealthy who are able to use every possible loophole to avoid paying, even on their investments which may have been some of the hedge fund profits that the angry are constantly complaining about.

If anyone should be excoriated, it’s big business for not paying taxes, and sending jobs and money out of the country. Which leads me to financial regulation. The protest signs say Wall Street, Big Banks, bad. But regulation is spoken of like it’s a sneaky form of government bailout. The current bill up for a vote in the Senate says the opposite of that, but fear is everywhere, with stronger appeal than fact. “Government Bailout” is a talking point that appeals to the gut of the fearful.

Oh, you say, I must be watching or reading the “liberal media.” No, I’m just not believing what’s on Fox, which has the top 14 highest rated shows on cable.  Recently, a Republican Senator Coburn was on Fox and called out a Fox news lie, the one that says people who don’t buy health insurance will go to jail. Bill O’Reilly objected and claimed his people had researched it, and no one on Fox ever said that. There are more than ten recorded instances of that lie being broadcast by Fox employees. Neil Cavuto has now acknowledged this but not O’Reilly. And how many people saw the correction after days of the lie being spread?

Speaking of fear, the rhetoric on some Fox shows scares me, but then, I’ve been spit at, and maybe you haven’t. Trust me, it makes all the difference. So much so that the experience is enough to overtake my brain and make me think irrationally. But, I won’t give in to that. I’m educated, I can look at many sources to discern the truth. I know what socialism is. I know what fascism really is. If these “isms” are being used to scare people, at least it might be good if the people yelling against them actually knew what these things are. (Hint: avoid doing research on Wikipedia…)

And yes, like it or not, America isn’t going to be all white in the coming decades. That might make some of us uncomfortable, but the world does change over time and the past wasn’t the heaven it’s cracked up to be. Grow up, America, admit you’ve got a big denial problem, and examine why you’re really angry.

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~ by mickeyhoffman on April 16, 2010.

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