At any rally, you have some nutters. In any conservative group, you have some racism and homophobia. So I’m not surprised that an anti-health care rally has featured racist and homophic slurs. And though bigotry is an integral element of the conservative movement, obviously many conservatives are not bigots and there are not-bigoted sentiments driving opposition to health reform — mostly a colorblind indifference to human welfare writ large. Still, I am quite surprised to see an actual member of congress like Rep Devin Nunes explicitly justifying the use of the “n-word” and calling people faggots:
SCULLY: A lot of angry comments aimed at a couple of your colleagues, including Barney Frank and Congressman John Lewis, using the “n” word as some of the protesters jeered at him as he walked through the halls of the Capitol.
NUNES: Yeah, well I think that when you use totalitarian tactics, people, you know, begin to act crazy. I think, you know, there’s people that have every right to say what they want. If they want to smear someone, they can do it. It’s not appropriate. And I think I would stop short of characterizing the 20,000 people protesting, that all of them were doing that –
SCULLY: — those are just some of the stories.
NUNES: Of course. I think the left loves to play a couple of incidents here or there.
As a member of the left I do, in fact, love to play up these incidents. I think they help expose the dark cancer at the heart of modern American conservatism. That said, it would be a heck of a lot harder for me to paint this as a movement steeped in racial anxieties if members of congress would denounce bigotry rather than justifying it as a reasonable response to Nancy Pelosi’s preferred parliamentary procedure.
Meanwhile, it seems that when not being racists, tea partiers enjoy threatening to assassinate members of conress.