Welcome to Confederate History Month


Written by Frank Rich for The New York Times

It’s kind of like that legendary stunt on the prime-time soap “Dallas,” where we learned that nothing bad had really happened because the previous season’s episodes were all a dream. We now know that the wave of anger that crashed on the Capitol as the health care bill passed last month the death threats and epithets hurled at members of Congress was also a mirage.

Take it from the louder voices on the right. Because no tape has surfaced of anyone yelling racial slurs at the civil rights icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, its now a blogosphere fact that Lewis is a liar and the lamestream media concocted the entire incident. The same camp maintains as well that the spit landing on the Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver was inadvertent spillover saliva from an over-frothing screamer spittle, not spit, as it were. True, there is video evidence of the homophobic venom directed at Barney Frank but, hey, Frank is white, so no racism there!

Its Not About Race declared a headline on a typical column defending over-the-top Obamacare opponents from critics like me, who had the nerve to suggest a possible racial motive in the rage aimed at the likes of Lewis and Cleaver neither of whom were major players in the Democrats health care campaign. Its also mistaken, it seems, for anyone to posit that race might be animating anti-Obama hotheads like those who packed assault weapons at presidential town hall meetings on health care last summer. And surely it is outrageous for anyone to argue that conservative leaders are enabling such extremism by remaining silent or egging it on with cries of Reload! to pander to the Tea Party-Glenn Beck base. As Beck has said, its Obama who is the real racist.

I would be more than happy to stand corrected. But the story of race and the right did not, alas, end with the health care bill. Hardly had we been told that all that ugliness was a fantasy than we learned back in the material world that the new Republican governor of Virginia, Robert McDonnell, had issued a state proclamation celebrating April as Confederate History Month.

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