Friday, April 2, 2010

Why the Rage?

Why the spectacular rage on the part of groups of crazies both inside and outside the halls of Congress?
by Charlie Leck

This post was somehow, through the mystery of on-line technology, deleted after it had only been up for an hour or so a few days ago. Even in that short time it stirred some interest and I had emails from several readers. I decided the post should be made a part of the permanent record of my blogs, so I am reposting it.

I have a theory about all this rage we’re seeing on display these days. We’re seeing it in the halls of Congress where Representative John Boehner has been acting like a fool, or a spoiled brat. It’s also visible among Republican leaders, like Karl Rove. Rove has been off the charts in the last week and is acting more like a hate monger than a statesman or political leader. And, obviously, we’re seeing it among a vast number of people whose lives have long been filled with hate and uncontrolled anger.

But, why the explosions right now. Why all the terrible hate language? There are even calls to arms. Why? What’s going on with the nutty tea party folks?

I have a theory.

It’s a theory that not many folks are going to like, but, I have to tell you, I’ve been around the block a few times and I’ve seen this kind of stuff going on for over forty years. It ain’t pretty. These days, I’m witnessing it real close up, in the faces and daily lives of several of my friends.

You're going to find that the vast – the vaster than vast – majority of these hate freaks are white people who feel left out and passed by. And, they are terribly frightened.

What is it that they fear so much? It’s an old story – a story that I’ve been reading and telling for more than four decades. This large group of white folks – the ones populating the Tea Party and the ones even in the halls of Congress and the offices of the Republican Party – are people who both hate and fear change.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they don't like the way the color of America is changing. For them, there are too many darker faces – faces from Mexico, parts of Africa and the Middle East.

I’m sorry, but I first saw this same fear in the 60s, when I went to Mississippi for a part of the summer of ’64. White folks in Mississippi were frightened to death that black folks were gaining political 'say' and power. I tried to be generous and argue that those white folk didn’t hate black folk. What they hated was the change that was coming to the standard rules of society in which they had grown very comfortable. I saw the same kind of thing on the south side of Minneapolis when I did community organization work there for the last three years of that extraordinary decade. White folks raged against the black folks who were taking over control of the community and the institutions within the community, from the churches and schools to the corner business establishments.

It’s no different now, except there is a stronger and more powerful symbol of that change than white folks have ever before seen; and so the hatred and anger is more intense and more volatile. We have a black President, folks. It’s a change that many, many white people in America just cannot accept. These folks don’t just want President Obama to lose the next election. They want him to be politically destroyed and humiliated.

For these frightened white folks, there are too many Muslims roaming the streets of America. Too many of these 'different' people are finding too much success within American business. They are doing too well in our schools. They are adapting too quickly and too successfully. They are learning our language with too much ease. There’s even one of them in Congress right now. Imagine! A black man is President and a Muslim is serving in the House of Representatives.

There are too many Mexicans settling in America and succeeding in America. And, too many Africans. And too many immigrants from the Middle East.

And now this black President wants to give them all health care benefits. He wants them find jobs. He wants their children to go to our best colleges and universities.

If you want to trace all this intense anger to its source, you’ll find it in the fear of simple people who believe they are being replaced in a new America. They absolutely do NOT want a new America. They want their old America.

All these hate-filled, fearful people turn, in times like this, to those people who speak their language of mistrust and dislike. They listen intently to the misguided simplicity of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck feed their hunger for more things to hate. These crazed talking heads, along with hateful, conservative politicians, feed and stoke the fires of bigotry.

Don’t look for the causes of all our current fear and hatred in anything rational or intellectual. It is quite the opposite. These fears are irrational and ignorant. Yet, these fears are strangling those who are not able or will not try to understand that change is like the ever flowing river. You cannot step into a flowing river and expect it to stand with you where you entered. That spot is already long gone and has moved downstream and reconstituted itself all together. The river has changed itself and become something other than that which you experienced when you stepped into it.

America, you see, is a mighty, ever-flowing river. You cannot damn it up or stop it. If we are to be free, this great and powerful river must flow free as well

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