Calling out the loathsome

CALLING OUT THE LOATHSOME…. Right-wing Tea Party activists hate the idea of improving the nation’s dysfunctional health care system, but as became abundantly clear yesterday, their hatred goes considerably further than that. I’m glad to see this get some attention.

[W]hile most of the invective was directed at the health care bill itself, several House members said there was an ugly tone to comments made by some demonstrators against three black lawmakers: Representatives Andre Carson of Indiana, Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri and John Lewis of Georgia, all Democrats.

An aide to Mr. Lewis, a leader of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, said that as he walked to the Capitol, Mr. Lewis was called racial slurs. A spokesman for Mr. Cleaver said that a protester spat on the congressman as he was walking to the Capitol for a vote.

Democratic aides said some demonstrators made anti-gay remarks to Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, who is gay.

The No. 3 Democrat in the House, Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, said, “I heard people saying things today that I have not heard since March 15, 1960, when I was marching to try to get off the back of the bus.”

The language the right-wing activists used was disgusting. The protestor who spit at Rep. Cleaver was arrested.

But by last night, a related question arose: why aren’t Republicans making any efforts at all to denounce the actions of their extremist allies? Can there be any doubt that if liberal protestors, speaking out against the war in Iraq a few years ago, had engaged in these kinds of tactics, the demands for Democratic condemnations would be overwhelming?

Barney Frank, who was on the receiving end of many verbal attacks, said, “If this was a movement that I was part of, I’d be doing more than I think the Republicans are, to differentiate myself.”

It’s possible Republicans will show some decency this morning, and at least offer cursory denunciations. At this point, however, their silence is as conspicuous as it is offensive.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) appeared on the floor last night to urge GOP lawmakers to “distance” themselves from the Tea Party’s loathsome tactics. After describing some of the misconduct, Ryan added, “We call on the Republicans to say ‘shame on you’ to that kind of behavior.”

We’re waiting.

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