WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – After a swastika was painted on a sign outside his office Aug. 4, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus from Georgia is afraid that the pitched, emotional battle over healthcare reform has become racially tinged.
Some opponents of health care reform, he said, “are bringing (in) race–and ‘Negro’ and ‘colored’ and Obama” when contacting his office, Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), said according to published reports.
Even the White House weighed in, saying Aug. 12 that the unknown vandal who daubed a swastika on a sign belonging to Rep. Scott, amid a raging healthcare debate should be “ashamed.”
The incident reflects the raging debate over plans by President Barack Obama to enact healthcare and insurance reform.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that it was highly inappropriate for anyone involved in the healthcare showdown to invoke the Nazi Holocaust, as some observers worried the healthcare debate was taking on racial tones. “I think, whenever that’s offered up into a public debate, it is a sign that things have gotten … completely out of hand,” he said.
“The notion that we’re having a public policy debate at the end of a spray paint can on somebody’s sign, I think, is ridiculous. I think anybody, who offers up that sort of analogy ought to be ashamed of themselves because they could not be more in the wrong,” Mr. Gibbs continued.
“I don’t think it has much to do with the health debate,” Dr. Ronald Walters, professor of political science at the University of Maryland told The Final Call. “What we see in the health debate is these town hall meetings have opened up the first opportunity the radical right has had to come back and mobilize against Barack Obama. So, when you look at what people are saying, some of it has to do with the broad outlines of all of his public policy.
“What we have to look at is this: It really is political opposition to Barack Obama. To that extent, some of it is racial. Some people are using racial slogans, and some are using party slogans. The two are mixed. Some of it has to do with race, there’s no question about that. But I put this in the general category of their opposition to the fact that he’s in the White House. Period,” Dr. Walters continued.
White, working-class voters have been organized by the right wing, according to Dr. Walters, and have been “egged-on by their leadership, to oppose everything that he’s done,” even when it’s against their own interests.
“The thing that the Republicans have had a tradition of doing, is mobilizing poor people against their own interests,” Dr. Walters said. “That’s one of the amazing things to me that they have been able to do it. What it appears they’re able to sell them, is a subtle version of White supremacy, which allows them to privilege that over any policy gains they might make.”
The incident which some say may have provoked the swastika attack began as a meeting totally unrelated to the healthcare debate. A group of health care protestors intruded on a local discussion the 13th District congressman was having with concerned citizens over a proposed highway which will destroy 68 homes and businesses in its path, right through Mr. Scott’s district.
Worried that some of the citizens would not get comforted about the loss of their homes, Mr. Scott accused protesters of trying to “hijack” the meeting. He also had a pointed exchange with a White doctor and televised debates with the doctor, after some news outlets described his forceful remarks as a rant. A video recording of the confrontation was shown repeatedly on cable news programs and the Internet. Three days later the swastika was painted on the sign outside Mr. Scott’s office in Smyrna, Ga.
Mr. Scott told reporters he stands by his original characterization of the disruption of the meeting.