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Caroline Myss Headshot

Republicans and the Art of Racism

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Like millions of other people, I, too, have been wondering about what the Republicans are up to these days -- I mean really up to even before Congressman Joe Wilson yelled, "You lie", in the middle of President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress. While Wilson claimed that he was just caught up in the emotions of the moment, something in me said, "I don't think so, Joe. You lie." More likely, this outrageous, insulting outburst was a planned interruption meant to do exactly what it did -- distract the American public from the content of President Obama's explanation of his health care reform bill.

But it was even more than a distraction carried out by an undistinguished Congressman who is no doubt one of Rove's obsequious yes-men. Wilson's outburst was an official act of rebellion, a tossing down of the gauntlet on behalf of the Republican Party, staged in front of the nation. The Republicans tacit approval of the message was evidenced by their absence of outrage and by their circling the wagons around their disgraceful political brother, Wilson. Senator McCain ordered a forced apology, which was delivered not as a gentleman of honor would enact a sincere apology but as a coward delivers an apology: indirectly to a second party and insincerely. Afterwards, Wilson immediately began reaping his promised rewards for a job well done: public support, campaign funds, and national media with a positive slant.

The reasons for the Republican Party disintegrating into a covert operation are all too obvious. They lack any true, respectable leader and a platform of visionary ideas that offer solutions to any of the problems they have created in the first place. McCain is no more than an old figurehead now who has taken more of a backseat position, avoiding the press more than walking into it lest they still ask him to explain why in the world he partnered with Sarah Palin in his run for the presidency. But just because Republicans don't have a clue about how to get out of the mess they have created does not mean they lack ideas about what they want to maintain, however. This party and no doubt a few of those Blue Dog Democrats are desperate to keep a corporate stronghold on the American legislative system. The health care plan with the public option represents the loss of insurance and pharmaceutical influence over government policies and thus, their campaign funds. The policies they support are all about their personal agendas far more than their commitment to lead this nation. It is impossible to imagine a coward like Joe Wilson ever having the dignity to actually stand up for a cause or for principles or even having the intellectual skill to recognize a principle, so intimidated are the Republicans by intellectual prowess. For them, an educated public represents a public who can see right through their real motives, their spin, and even survive their highly organized propaganda tactics.

In the absence of any real power, the Republican Party has no option but to maintain a covert policy of aggressive stand-offs and nonpartisan politics upfront while behind the scenes reverting to tactics mastered by the fascists: use street mobs, hysterics and lies to distract and confuse the public. Distraction and obstruction, in fact, are the only real agendas of the Republican Party. And their weapon of choice is the most insidious of all: racism.

I've listened to President Obama deny more than once that race is an issue for the Republicans and no doubt, some Democrats. It took former Presidents Carter and Clinton to finally state the obvious: yes, racism is a problem in the Congress and in the country. Clinton noted that racism is a problem with right-wing extremists. But the truth is racism is not a problem for the Republicans. In fact, it's just what the doctor ordered. It's the one issue President Obama can't fight. It's their perfect tool to take to the streets and channel into the repressed anger of the American public -- repressed because of the policies of silence and fear under the Bush administration, ironically. But racism becomes an art form when circumstances are shifted in such a way that it is impossible to actually prove that the reasons they have shifted are due to a lack of respect that is more likely racial than anything else. Yet, such observations can't be proven, which is why they are so evil and so insidious. They can only be felt, observed, psychically absorbed like a toxic hit to the gut that lets you know you've just been caught doing the wrong thing.

Take the sudden appearance of guns at public rallies where President Obama is speaking. Imagine bringing a gun to a rally for Bush or Cheney. Can you even fathom such a thing? Now suddenly it's okay to bring guns to public rallies where a black president is speaking. It isn't black people that are carrying these guns; it's white people. White people are defiantly demanding their right to carry arms into public places and braced to scream Obama is a racist should they be challenged. You can see the scream just waiting to pour out of their throats like projectile vomit. Surely everyone remembers that paranoid Bush and Cheney could have cared less about the American right to carry arms when they were in public. Even protestors with harmless signs were cordoned off miles away lest Bush saw signs that would upset him -- as if he could even read them. And now guns are allowed? The evil of this shift of what is allowed in public is hidden in the wind but it's there for those with eyes who can see clearly.

As for the repressed anger that fuels racism, the Republicans have their finger on this anger and they intend to use it. Not only that, they know how to use it. Their actions reveal classic strategies of a great philosopher, Sun Tzu, in his 2,000-year-old brilliant text, The Art of War. First, study the strategies and policies of your opponent and then destroy his strategies. The Republicans are not only doing this in the House and Senate but they have taken this action to the streets, to the media, and have enlisted the aid of carnival barkers Beck and Limbaugh. Beck has openly stated that he believes Obama is a racist who hates white people. That may well be the least of his insane comments, but could he have survived one day on television mouthing such trash about Bush? He would have been kidnapped with a hood over his head in the middle of the night and shipped overseas to one of those Bush-Cheney "spas" for political upstarts. And had a Democrat blurted out, "You lie" to Bush in a joint session of Congress, Rove's greeting committee would have met him back stage, crushed a right knee and informed him that his future was toast.

Secondly, destroy the loyalty of your opponent's followers. The Republicans are superb craftsmen at chipping away at Obama's policies and all the actions he has had to take such as the bailout emergency package, a package initiated because of a bank collapse under Bush. They are geniuses at shifting blame and making the public forget the policies and blunders of the past. And of course, that touch of racism is present in listening to people in the street as they scream out their mistrust of the bailout policy.

Third, create suspicion and disharmony among the public. This destroys the loyalty of the public and no leader can succeed without the support of the public. Make the public suspicious about every policy, every statement, and every action your opponent initiates, even speaking to school children about succeeding with their studies.

Finally, operate through deception. No one can track who exactly is fueling these cries of racism and the debunked rumors of the President's birthplace being in question, but so many seem to occur in areas with high unemployment or with histories of racial issues.

These are the strategies through which racism becomes an art form, a true weapon that fuels a rebellion in the streets and does the dirty work for the Republicans and the Democrats that are themselves racists at heart -- if you want to call it "heart" at all. These people do not represent what America needs right now or ever. They represent the worst of American history, the prejudicial blood baths that divided this nation and that, given their way, will keep it divided.

President Obama, unfortunately, has to forgo his commitment to diplomacy and realize he is dealing not only with thugs like Beck and Limbaugh but with thugs in the Senate and in the House. He must not back down from his commitment to the public option plan in the health care reform bill because it represents a break from the corporate warlords who are desperate to maintain financial authority over the American public and legislature. If you want this in the language of racism, any bill that has the power to break the economic-political monopoly of the corporate warlords represents the new Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the American people to once again establish a balance of power between their needs versus the controlling force of corporate greed. It just happens that the health care reform bill with a public option clause is the first one to attempt that emancipation.