Tuesday, March 23, 2010


It's bad enough that Glenn Beck insulted John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights era and victim of a number of assaults during that period, for responding to racist attacks over the weekend by locking arms with fellow lawmakers, much as civil rights marchers locked arms half a century ago:

BECK: You know what this is? They locked arms, because they wanted to compare themselves to the civil rights activists. How dare you!

It becomes even more offensive when you realize that, almost since the start of the Obama presidency, and certainly since the health care debate heated up, Beck and other movement conservatives have described their own "victimization" in ways that -- unlike the comparison implied in Lewis's gesture -- are absurdly farfetched, undeserved, and self-aggrandizing.

Just in the past day or so, for instance, we have Jeffrey Lord of The American Spectator comparing the health care repeal movement to (among other historical precedents) the Montgomery bus boycott, Gandhi's Salt March, and the Solidarity's Gdansk shipyard strikes.

Fortunately, this is not the first time that Americans -- and those outside America -- have set out to undo an untenable status quo....

The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955 ... the tactic was simple: elementary non-compliance by refusing to ride buses. Period. Black men, women and children were all asked to voluntarily comply to somehow use other transportation, including walking if necessary.... Finally, the courts stepped in and sided with Dr. King. The boycott ended, the buses were integrated, and the moral stake of the aborning Civil Rights movement was held high.

The Salt March, 1930 ... in full view of the newsreel cameras, [Gandhi] knelt at ocean's edge and began collecting seawater, letting it evaporate and thus creating salt. Making salt was an illegal activity under the British Salt Tax. His actions captured the public imagination in India and massive civil disobedience set in, with millions making salt, making the Salt Tax virtually unenforceable -- which they did not have. India won its independence in 1948....

Do I really need to quote more of this?

And (via TBogg) I see that Dana Loesch at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government is making this comparison:

Yesterday was my son's 9th birthday and for his present, the government jacked his future....

The scene was an eerie replay for me; eight-and-a-half years ago that same boy sat in his bouncy seat while cooing and kicking his legs as his father and I watched the twin towers crumble to dust on live television. The feeling was the same.

Right -- an individual health insurance mandate is the moral equivalent of being under terrorist attack.

This is the main trope of the anti-Obama movement, used by Beck and virtually every other opponent: that health care reform (or the stimulus plan or the car bailout or whatever) is the tyranny of King George or Hitler or Stalin or name-your-favorite-oppressor. (For variety yesterday, Ben Stein, also at The American Spectator, invoked Trujillo -- who, of course, ordered the mass slaughter of Haitians in the Dominican Republic in 1937, which is just like imposing an excise tax for insurance noncompliance.) Comfortable rightists who aren't suffering persecution persist in donning mantles of oppression to which they've never been entitled and never will be -- and then they have the unmitigated gall to slam Lewis for facing down an angry mob and thinking he's seen that kind of anger before. Unlike the tyranny the righties think they see, what Lewis thought he was watching may yet actually turn vicious like its predecessor.

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