CLOSET RACISTS

That Republican Party juggernaut known as the “repeal and replace” movement has been halted. However, Americans, and in particular, beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act, should not for a moment believe they have achieved a final victory over this ill-informed initiative. Only death will extinguish the diseased mindset that underlies the repeal and replace movement.

It would be difficult to find a more virulent racial undertone than the attitude that drives the repeal and replace theory. For seven years certain members of both houses of Congress complained about the Affordable Care Act in its entirety―despite the fact that certain features of the enactment came from conservative think tanks. When these malign legislators received a golden opportunity to achieve their goal, it was discovered they had no viable replacement. The conglomeration of plans they presented would have resulted in up to 32 million Americans losing their health insurance, and an untold number of deaths. Some Americans, with much justification, began referring to members of the Republican Party as “murderers.”

Legislators are sent to Congress to improve the lives of the people they represent. Nevertheless, leaders Paul Ryan in the House of Representatives and Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Senate did everything in their power to destroy the safety net for millions of Americans. The only logical explanation for this malfeasance was the fact that a black man’s name was attached as a signature achievement to the Affordable Care Act. The catchphrase “ObamaCare” did not sit well with a lot of white folks.

The Civil Rights Act of 1968 authorizes federal prosecution of anyone who willingly injures, intimidates or interferes with another person, or attempts to do so, by force, because of the other person’s race, color, religion or national origin. Thus, the offspring of Dixiecrats, Ku Klux Klansmen and others, who, for whatever reason, dislike people of color, were driven into the closet. The only way for legislators to avoid injunction for violation of the 1968 act is to conceal  racist legislation as legitimate process. This explains how the “repeal and replace” monstrosity came into being.

Likewise, the only place left for the private citizen to avoid punishment and yet vent racial animus is within the safe confines of a voting booth.

William Faulkner (1897-1962) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. Due to growing up in Mississippi during the Jim Crow era, Faulkner was witness to full-blown racial intolerance, and he featured the “ineradicable curse” of racism in his novel Absalom, Absalom! In the novel, Faulkner used demise of the once glorious plantation known as “Sutpen’s Hundred,” an overgrown wasteland commanded by a burnt out mansion, to symbolize and expose the futility of racial superiority.  Inevitably, when reducing the “ineradicable curse” to its natural conclusion, we are informed that only one cure for the racist attitude exists—it is called a grave.

Following an early morning defeat of legislation identified by its authors as “skinny repeal and replace,” Senate Majority leader McConnell delivered a sour grapes speech directed at Democrats in the Senate. McConnell suggested that Democrats were rejoicing in their victory. Senate Minority leader Charles Schumer rose and replied, “No, we are not celebrating, we are relieved.”

Prior to voting, several members of the Republican conference had publicly declared that the watered-down version of repeal and replace was a “fraud.” Following that alarming revelation, most of them voted in favor of the act. Thus, decent Americans everywhere must be ever vigilant to the fact that these ill-minded legislators pose a threat to foist racist and fraudulent enactments upon us at any time.  For indeed, as author William Faulkner so succinctly reminded us,   attitudes within this group of closet racists will only change one by one―as the Grim Reaper marks his recruits.

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