The Righteous Mob : Like Talking to Children

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KKK to Tea Parties:
Communicating with the ignorant and angry

By Larry Ray / The Rag Blog / September 15, 2009

If angry outbursts and placard waving protesters against health care reform seem heated today, the idea of planned parenthood and birth control in the early 1900’s caused a raging bonfire.

Margaret Sanger, an activist way ahead of her time, is credited with starting the idea of planned parenthood. Over the years she was arrested more than eight times for expressing her ideas back when speaking out in public in favor of birth control was illegal. She did time in jail in 1916 nine days after opening America’s first birth control and family planning clinic in Brooklyn.

But Margaret Sanger’s message also supported “negative eugenics” saying, “It is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things.”

So, like a modern day Sibyl, her pronouncements could be interpreted by opposing sides, each opting either to hear the positive germ of her message, or to embrace the radical edges of some of her statements as pillars of support for their views… including white supremacy.

In the mid 1920’s she received more than a million letters requesting information on birth control. And she spoke from coast to coast to diverse groups including “cotton workers, churchmen, liberals, socialists, scientists, civic clubs, and fashionable, philanthropically minded women.”

In 1926, she was invited to speak to the ladies axillary of the Ku Klux Klan in Silver Lake, New Jersey. After being driven in a curtain shuttered car for almost an hour, way out into a country field, she gave a lecture to the robed and hooded ladies, as well as a smattering of male Klansmen. In her memoirs she described it as “one of the weirdest experiences I had in lecturing,” noting that she was forced to use only “the most elementary terms, as though I were trying to make children understand.” The KKK ladies and their male attendees were reportedly delighted with the idea of promoting birth control for ‘the colored folks.’

Though she remains to this day a controversial figure it is interesting to note that as the nation became more enlightened, birth control and family planning became accepted, championed by the Rockefeller, Jr.’s Bureau of Social Hygiene. In spite of allegations of racism, she earned the respect and support of of civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American Humanist Association named her Humanist of the Year in 1957.

Today President Barack Obama has undertaken the tough task of renewing a demand for universal health insurance legislation for all Americans. For seventy years political manipulation, crass profit incentives of big business and a whipped up mistrust of “big government” as a convenient devil has blocked health care reform legislation.

Medicare health insurance for our senior citizens finally passed in 1965 after years of being protested and assailed as “socialist” and a “government takeover” by conservative Republicans adverse to any change. A high percentage of today’s protesters have Medicare cards in their pockets.

The busloads of well fed white folks who angrily waved placards in the nation’s capitol last week probably didn’t pay for their bus tickets and their mental carry on baggage was not packed with reasoned ideology based upon clear fact. Rather, it was stuffed with anger, startling ignorance of the facts and, worse, their willingness to believe such political purée.

It is daily becoming more and more clear that much, but not all, of what we are seeing is driven by simmering racism, the idea that the most powerful man in the world, the President of the USA is not a white man. That a black skinned (his white half doesn’t seem to count), calm, educated and persuasive man is deciding what will happen to THEM!

The busloads arriving in Washington D.C. and in the town hall meetings, were all for the most part provided a free ride and a sense of indignant importance, banding together to hate, vent frustration and spout utter nonsense. With Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and the endless babble of knee-jerk talking heads on cable TV, the ignorant are rewarded for their ignorance. They are delighted to hear what they want to hear fed to them daily.

Also, today’s so-called “Tea Parties” which have no relationship whatsoever to the reasons for the Boston Tea Party are a sad testament in themselves to the ignorance of most of the shouting sign carriers of what the historic “Tea Party” actually was. Similarly, a large number of those screaming “Socialist” would, I will wager, be unable to define what a socialist is. But by God, they are mad!

Today’s disgruntled race baiting demonstrators aren’t wearing robes or hoods. Most also are not armed with facts or reasoned opposition. They are armed with anger, wild rumors and a sense of empowerment that harks back some 40 some odd years ago when this same mentality produced sneers and shouts of “Boy!” to make a black move off the sidewalk, or to those who carried “no nigger” placards outside public schools as police dogs strained at their leashes as small black children walked past. Fine law-abiding, church going folks then … and now.

This minority of our citizenry has long been hijacked for cynical purposes. They present a golden opportunity for the struggling, discredited conservative Republican base to recruit and inflame the bigoted and ignorant with poisoned misinformation.

Though this righteous mob is making the most noise and is getting the media coverage that would be bestowed on a fully grown two-headed mule, our elected representatives must hear the louder voice of reason from the overwhelmingly reasonable majority. Maybe it would help if we speak to them “in the most elementary terms, as though we were trying to make children understand.”

[Retired journalist Larry Ray is a Texas native and former Austin television news anchor. He also posts at The iHandbill.]

The Rag Blog

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18 Responses to The Righteous Mob : Like Talking to Children

  1. dospesentas says:

    More of Larry’s nonsense. What kind of lens does this guy view the world through? Once again, we have an article relating to ‘healtcare reform’ that says NOTHING about HEALTHCARE and simply perpetuates the off-topic peripherial attacks in an effort to stifle the voices of those with concerns.

    The true irony is Larry complains about the use of tactics he once championed. He claims people are ‘bussed’, even if this were true, does this invalidate their right to a voice and free speech? How discriminatory! When Democrats bus union minions into rally’s supporting HIS causes it’s ‘free speech at work’ and ‘the people’s voice’. When they bus people to polls to ‘robot’ vote for their party does he advocate denying their vote; of course not. HYPOCRITE. Regardless, lets not let the truth get in the way of his little tale, he can’t back up his blanket claims with any facts.

    The other evil facet of this article is it’s use of the KKK as a ‘lead in’. Isn’t this exactly the type of sensationalism that is garnering complaints from the left (use of Hitler, Swastikas on demonstration signs)? This is a clear attempt to inject racism where none exists, simply for sensationalism. Grow up. If you can’t win with better ideas and facts, don’t stoop to these kinds of pathetic tactics.

    When do we get to discuss the specifics of healthcare reform Larry? When do we stop wasting time unfairly attacking, discrediting and belittling our fellow citizens, who may not agree with our position, and start respecting their voice and rights? Stop wasting our time with this propaganda.

    “When China stops lending and the rich are taxed into poverty, who will pay for our ‘dependent society'”?

  2. What a rant, dospensatas. Hope you feel better. First, this is not an article about health care reform in any way shape or form. It is about racism and ignorance. The Rag Blog, a progressive news magazine, does not have “topics.” This is not a comment forum with a thread, so how you see my or any other article as being “off-topic” is most strange. I wish I could follow your disjointed ramble. Your final digression to China and the rich being “taxed into poverty” perhaps provides insight into your thinking?
    Thanks for taking time to leave your thoughts, in any case. Larry

  3. dospesentas says:

    Just trying to keep in step with YOUR KKK, Racist conspiracy rant Larry. I’m feeling fine thank you. Let’s revisit some of your statements:

    “The Rag Blog, a progressive news magazine, does not have “topics”” No topics? Are you actually trying to claim all the Rag Blog articles are non specific and have no subject? I beg to differ.

    “This is not a comment forum with a thread” Again I beg to differ. Every article has a thread which I believe is called ‘COMMENTS’. Perhaps you should read the definition of ‘BLOG’.

    “this is not an article about health care reform in any way shape or form.” Not about health care reform?? Perhaps you should read your own stuff – start with the very first paragraph (it’s referenced in the first sentence). To be more specific, you reference health care reform or associated demonstrators/demonstrations at least eight times.

    Let me break it down for you Larry: I find stereotyping, discrediting and casting nefarious intent without substantiation to be non-productive and bordering on evil. What did these folks do to you that makes you so contemptious? Are your positions so weak that you feel the need to demonize those who don’t agree with you? Your article is a ‘hit’ piece that equates your opposition as KKK marchers and racists. You make this attack without substantiation – only loose opinion. When you stoop to throwing racist conspiracy ‘bombs’ you are scraping bottom.

    You go on to make disparaging claims about ‘conspiracies’ by ‘big business’ (always a hit with the ‘progressive’ crowd) – again without substance. You reference 1965 Medicare act to denounce it’s opposition (in reference to today’s resistance to HCR), again without fact or reference. I strongly suggest you read: Medicare’s Origin: The Economics and Politics of Dependency by Charlotte Twight for some reality. I’ll also remind you, Medicare is headed off a cliff with a projected funding deficit in the trillions of dollars. Medicare cost taxpayers $7b/yr in 1970, it has ballooned to over $456b for fy 2008 (CBO) and is accelerating. This was a primary concern of the 1965 opposition – and to quote Rev. Wright; “the chicken has come home to roost”. Perhaps your beef is more with CBO who frankly states: “the PRESENT course of government spending is unsustainable” – not exactly an endorsement for billions (trillions?) of new entitlement spending. Perhaps this will help you define my “thinking” regarding: “When China stops lending and the rich are taxed into poverty, who will pay for our ‘dependent society'”?

    Thanks for your response in any case.

  4. Deva says:

    On our way to the Anacortes, Washington ferry terminal last Sunday afternoon, my partner and I saw a group of middleaged people on an intersection, with placards and a microphone. One prominent sign read: “We want the same health benefits as Congress”, and another: “Canada is leading us into the sewer of socialism”. Since I was on my way back into Canada, I rolled down my window and, while passing through the intersection, yelled at them: “Stop the war!” We looked at each other with scorn for the others’ ignorance, and the moment was gone… but I am sure that moments such as these are ubiquitous in the US.

    Most Canadians would like improvements in and object to any cuts to but are satisfied that their health care system is among the best in the world; and they don’t mind supporting it through taxes and tax deductible contributions. There are wait lists for some necessary as well as some elective surgeries, but rich people can go elsewhere if they are so inclined, and pay for it themselves. Most will wait their turns, assured that things are much worse elsewhere, such as as in the US.

  5. Clint says:

    Larry Ray,

    Couldn’t find your e-mail anywhere, but I’m interested in re-posting a shorter version of this article on my blog (with credit, of course).

    Send me an e-mail if you see this, please.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Think infrastructure, sustainability;
    how do you keep a good thing going?
    It is so sad your great country is being taken down by tightwads who won’t spend a nickle to save a dime.
    Please, please don’t screw up the system in my country (Canada).

  7. dospesentas says:

    Anonymous/pms: infrastructure and sustainability? Don’t get the reference. Please provide factual support for your claim: “your great country is being taken down by tightwads who won’t spend a nickle to save a dime” Keep in mind we have an $11T national debt and $1T annual deficits projected for the next decade – hardly the track record of ‘tightwads’?

    FYI – ‘your’ country’s healthcare depends on OUR drug research, OUR medical schools and OUR medical systems development. Let’s also not forget the billions you save by ‘free riding’ and hiding behind OUR military for security.

  8. Richard said:

    If there is more money spent on drug research in the US, it is purely to create drugs that are in large measure useless to our health, but enormously good for the drug company’s financial health.

    ….I agree w/Richard 100%

  9. dospesentas says:

    Ahh Jenny, don’t get yer panties in a wad. SHRILL! LOL, read your own response, including your use of personal attack and profanity – it’s the definition of shrill. Profanity exemplifies a small mind, unable to address issues in a mature, reasoned fashion. Jenny, Jenny who can I turn to? YOU; when I want a rude, biased, non factual, ‘attack’ response.

    Canada has and does benefit greatly from U.S. phamacutical, medical and medical system research. Quite frankly, all developed countries benefit from each other in these diciplines. However, we spend far more medical research dollars in the U.S. (>$95B/yr) than Canada. Canada benefits from that investment. I realize you deplore evil corporations and want to belittle our countries drug and medical research (along with the hundreds of thousands of their employees) but the differences are inescapable.

    Can you name a single prestigous Canadian medical school comparable to Harvard or Johns Hopkins? Can you name a single Canadian cancer research facility that compares to MD Anderson? Can you even name a single Canadian drug company that competes with Eli Lilly, Merck, Johnson & Johnson or Genentech? Of the top 50 drug companies in the world Canada has ZERO, the U.S. has 20! (Hey but they bootleg plenty of our drugs back to us) When you look at medical systems research the differences are even more vast (MRI, Sonogram, nuclear medicine, etc.).

    Do I even need to bother addressing the differences in our militaries? (again an American institution I’ll assume you also deplore). Canadians have been able to sit back while the American taxpayer has picked up the check for the security of our continent.

    Since U.S. drug companies make a product that’s “useless to our health” I’ll assume you have been and will be, refusing these ‘useless’ American medications when prescribed to you. Better go to your medicine cabinet and banish all those ‘usless’ American products.

    When China stops lending and the rich are taxed into poverty who will pay for Jenny’s ‘dependent society’.

  10. richard jehn says:

    So, remind me who’s paying you to provide your elegant (and utterly false) commentary here … Otherwise, it just doesn’t make any sense, does it?

  11. dospesentas says:

    Ahh, I see. Now Jenny stoops to a favorite tactic; false demonization (you have nothing, so alledge I’m be being paid to discredit me. What’s next? I’m a racist?). I especially liked the nonsensical, off topic, blanket ending conclusion. Discredit with bogus claims, then throw in an irrelevant, false conclusion for ‘icing’. LOL

    No one’s paying me Jenny and we both know the commentary, based on common sense, isn’t false (sorry your bogus proclamation doesn’t make it so). You asked for substantiation, I provided it along with thoughtful counterpoint. Rather than concede or respond with reason, you come back with an attempt to discredit. Is that the best you have? Pretty weak Jenny. I will however give you points for avoiding the topic with peripheral attacks.

    Hey Jenny, here’s one that’ll fit right in with your debate style: “I know you are but what am I?”

  12. Anonymous says:

    Infrastructure and sustainability? The references.
    “Infrastructure can be defined as the basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function.” Don’t you think basic health care is or should be a part of any country’s infrastructure?
    “Sustainability, in a broad sense, is the capacity to endure.” How can working people anywhere endure a system that takes more than they can produce?
    “Tightwad is a person or group that is stingy or overly cautious or defensive with money”
    An analysis of any system should show where health care money comes from and where it goes ? Always ask are there a few getting rich and a little defensive about it?
    R&D? We all do our share and there are very good schools throughout the world . Perhaps not Harvard but inventive.

  13. dospesentas says:


    Got it. The healthcare industry is already a big part of our countries infrastructure. It’s growth illustrates current sustainability. Creating a huge unfunded entitlement that requires perpetually borrowing money (if you can) isn’t sustainable.

    I think with an $11t national debt and over $1t in red ink annually we can rule the u.s. out as being overly cautious with money.

    I like your “analysis of any system should show where health care money comes from and where it goes”. That’s a point that needs more exploration. I’m a big believer in getting the facts. On that topic, I heard an interesting factiod: The total of all the health insurance companies profits for an entire year, will pay America’s health care bill for TWO DAYS!

    Globally we ALL contribute (Canada too), but to dismiss the $97 billion in annual U.S. R&D is ludicrous. We do the heavy lifting and a big part of our motivation is profit. Profit is a powerful incentive that shouldn’t be dismissed.

  14. Anonymous says:

    dospendejos or whatever her name is is a bright person but clearly off her meds and is clearly mentally ill. Group therapy would do her more good than using this blog site to ramble and rave. Go see your doctor, dos.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous ” off her meds”,
    Nothing in what you have said is clear. It would be more helpful to make kind remarks and refrain from
    medical opinions. Your comments are
    not helpful ( at least to me)

  16. dospesentas says:

    DOS: Thanks for the ‘bright person’ compliment. Your sophmoric personal attack isn’t worth a response.

    PMS: Thanks for the support and your common sense.

    On the personal attack thing: I see a new comment ‘qualifier’ which states: “prohibits personal attack, goading and harassment, and other malicious remarks” I support this policy, however am concerned that one of the ‘editors’ is routinely guilty of these offenses. For example, in this thread Richard Jehn writes: “Twofuckingcents – shrill is the only conceivable word to describe your bullshit” It makes one wonder if the fox is guarding the henhouse.

  17. richard jehn says:

    Dos’: You’re right. Comment removed.

  18. dospesentas says:

    Thank you, I appreciate that. I always work to, while expressing my opinion/belief, be factual, respectful and on topic. I will criticize where appropriate and use example whenever possible. However, when the tone is diminished, like any human being, I can tend to respond in kind (you give respect to get respect).

    I support policing eggregious offenses but hope you don’t use a ‘comment policy’ to quell opposing view. Censoring content, because it may be contrary to your (or the general) belief, leads to a violation of free speech and a loss of credibility for any blog. If you truly want an honest exchange of ideas, it must be unencumbered, with the exception of off topic personal attacks, vulgarity, etc. I grew up in an educated household where point and counter-point were respected.

    Thanks again for the retraction Richard.

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