Racism, Right-Wing Rage and the Politics of White Nostalgia. Tim Wise is trying to give America a history lesson. I don’t expect that to end well. Not because his facts are bad (they are excellent) but because America seems committed to pretending that various major events and policies over the last 200 years didn’t happen whenever it looks like the bill might be coming due. Until of course something horrible happens and there is no way to avoid reality. You know what I’m expecting to shake loose the health care debate? Swine flu. Right now it’s not a pandemic, but all that scrambling for a vaccine isn’t for shits and giggles. And if it’s not swine flu it’ll be some other pandemic like the one in 1918 that highlights very quickly what can go wrong when most of your population doesn’t have access to long term quality medical care. Oh sure, there will be people in the hospitals getting treatment after it all goes to hell. But before the point when we know that it’s Killer Infection X? It’s going to get a whole lot of time to spread as people ignore symptoms and keep going to work or to school or wherever without treatment because they can’t afford it. And we’re going to see a lot of “those people” rhetoric and blaming of the victims because of course the poor will be the scapegoats instead of the real culprits.
After a good sized chunk of the population has taken ill/died and we’re struggling to keep America running? You’ll see the same people that are screaming now about death panels, and not paying for any health care for the lazy, and whatever other trigger phrases that are currently in vogue (phrases that amount to “There’s only enough for me and people like me. We’re not sharing with you.”) screaming about how the government failed them. About how “those people” ruined America with their selfish insistence on going to work and school instead of staying at home. They’ll ignore every bit of context that points to the uncomfortable parts of reality in favor of playing the blame game as long as it keeps attention off of their role. It’ll go on for weeks with pundits happily engaging in the demonization of everyone that didn’t beat them upside the head with reality enough times, and refusing to consider that all their scare mongering tactics to prevent the public option from being viable in 2009 are why things are falling apart in 2012 or 2020. The sad part is that we’ve actually already had this lesson several times, but for some reason America can’t seem to remember what happens when you let greed trump common sense, much less what happens when you let racism poison every decision.