N-Word and F-Word Shouted by Tea Party at Black, Gay Lawmakers
From Diversity, Inc. -- By Gail Zoppo - Mar 22, 2010:
Democratic U.S. Congressmen John Lewis, who is Black, and Barney Frank, who is openly gay, were targets of hate-filled racist and homophobic epithets on Saturday; Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, who is Black, was spit upon.
Although historic legislation passed by Congress Sunday night would extend healthcare to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, many wonder if the Tea Party demonstrators' actions were a platform for virulent racism and homophobia.
What motivated the mob of about 1,000 protesters in Washington, D.C., on Saturday?
Former President Jimmy Carter said that racism was a key factor in the Tea Party's opposition to the bill. That racism is directed at President Barack Obama and also takes into account that Blacks and Latinos, who disproportionately have lower incomes, would receive the most benefits from the healthcare bill.
On Saturday, Lewis, a civil-rights leader who was nearly beaten to death during an Alabama march in the '60s, was leaving the Cannon office building across from the Capitol when he heard protesters shout "Kill the bill, kill the bill," reports McClatchy Newspapers. "I said, 'I'm for the bill, I support the bill, I'm voting for the bill.'" That's when Cleaver, who was walking a few yards behind Lewis, reportedly heard the N-word hurled from the crowd and was spit upon. U.S. Capitol Police led him into the building to ensure his safety.
According to UPI, the person who allegedly spit on him was released after Cleaver declined to press charges.
Protesters also hurled racial epithets at Rep. Andre Carson, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
"It was like going into the time machine with John Lewis," said Carson, according to BusinessWeek.
"I have heard things today that I have not heard since March 15, 1960, when I was marching to get off the back of the bus," House Majority Whip James Clyburn, the highest-ranking Black member of Congress, told UPI.
According to the Post, Frank was confronted by about 100 protesters inside the Longworth House Office Building where he was targeted with anti-gay slurs and urged to vote against the bill.
"The healthcare bill is proxy for a lot of other sentiments, some of which are perfectly reasonable, but some of which are not," Frank reportedly told the Boston Globe.
It "appear[s] that at least some of the opposition is rooted in something other than philosophical differences over individual mandates," stated NPR's Frank James. "Some of us have long suspected that at least part of the opposition to the overhaul is part of the freeform hostility some Americans feel toward the political ascendacy of people who don't look like them or who have a different sexual orientation."
A posting on NPR concurs: "From what I have observed, the election of the first [B]lack president has made it impossible for those who were sort of able to contain their feelings on race, almost impossible for them to do so. I do believe much of the anger and hatred expressed at the town hall meetings during his campaign, and at the political rallies now, and in the rhetoric of entertainers like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and others, and in the protestors waving signs with racial slurs, all of it, is the same mentality that did allow people to call [B]lack people n****rs, and allowed segregation and discrimination, allowed lynching and the acquittal of the murderers, and allowed open Klan rallies, and allowed Klan members to serve in Congress and on the Supreme Court, and allowed cops to command their dogs to bite or turn their fire hoses on people. How we see it being manifested today may be different, but the motivation is the same…"