Sunday, March 21, 2010
THE TEA PARTY OF THE GOP
Demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol, angry over the proposed health care bill, shouted "nigger" Saturday at U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who was nearly beaten to death during an Alabama march in the 1960s.
The protesters also shouted obscenities at other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, lawmakers said.
"They were shouting, sort of harassing," Lewis said. "But, it's okay, I've faced this before. It reminded me of the 60s. It was a lot of downright hate and anger and people being downright mean."
Lewis said he was leaving the Cannon office building to walk to the Capitol to vote when protesters shouted "Kill the bill, kill the bill," Lewis said.
"I said 'I'm for the bill, I support the bill, I'm voting for the bill'," Lewis said.
A colleague who was accompanying Lewis said people in the crowd responded by saying "Kill the bill, then the n-word."
"It surprised me that people are so mean and we can't engage in a civil dialogue and debate," Lewis said.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said he was a few yards behind Lewis and distinctly heard "nigger."
"It was a chorus," Cleaver said. "In a way, I feel sorry for those people who are doing this nasty stuff - they're being whipped up. I decided I wouldn't be angry with any of them."
Protestors also used a slur as they confronted Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., an openly gay member of Congress. A writer for Huffington Post said the crowd called Frank a "faggot."
Frank told the Boston Globe that the incident happened as he was walking from the Longworth office building to the Rayburn office building, both a short distance from the Capitol. Frank said the crowd consisted of a couple of hundred of people and that they referred to him as 'homo.'
"I'm disappointed with the unwillingness to be civil," Frank told the Globe. "I was, I guess, surprised by the rancor. What it means is obviously the health care bill is proxy for a lot of other sentiments, some of which are perfectly reasonable, but some of which are not."