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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Forum Question -- After the Fact

Almost a week ago, while I was thinking about what I would post on this weblog about the health care forum where I had been a spectator a few hours earlier, a completely formed question for the Congressman suddenly popped, unbidden, into my head, although I had never had any intention of queuing up to speak. I had, however, before the event thought that I could say, if somehow I was pushed into it, merely that I commended the Congressman for coming there and holding the forum, because I thought it was taking a lot of heart for him and his Democratic colleagues to do that over and over again, not only in the face of all the attacks that were being leveled with such a nonsensical lack of justification against the reforms, but also because of the chore of having to respond in so much detail. When one is not sick and has no one in dire straits, the myriad ins and outs of health care are not the most gripping subject.matter.

I could easily have spoken at the forum, and I think I would have gotten the audience's attention. First, the rainbow presence there was light at best, especially of the male persuasion, though the Congressman had as his assistants not one but two rainbow female assistants, both of them absolutely devoted to their duties, and so, not knowing me, there would have been a certain amount of curiosity, even among the antis, about what I would find to say, especially extemporaneously. Being of a generation that had experienced Jim Crow first hand and had never seen any reason to "put that behind them," would I be another Reverend Jeremiah Wright or what? Plus my many friends there, who had never heard me speak in public about anything, would have waited with interest, because they would know that, as I have already demonstrated in this weblog for a long time, I am capable of saying almost anything of a side-off-the-wall though generally non-offensive nature.

But I'm glad that actually doing so never entered my mind, because the speech that I came up with later at home, hours after the fact, would have been so radical and biting and bizarre that it would've gone over, even among my close friends, like a lead balloon. My insistence on not using the slothful and inaccurate words "black" and "white" to denote people and instead substituting more suitable terms, such as "rainbows" in place of "black people," would all by itself have been enough for nearly universal dismissal of what I would say. Not that that would've been bad, but I wouldn't have felt like hearing it at that particular moment. I had already heard it several times in the past.

But, as happens so often, that didn't keep my mind from making various revisions of that speech anyway, and it has come up with a shorter and slightly less outrageous version, which, if I had had three days instead of mere minutes to pull it all together, would've gone as follows:

"Thank you. My name is Carl Gardner. I live in the southern part of Nelson County. I'm a Korean War veteran." (Most of the questioners led out with this kind of autobiography, partly to help establish their right to speak to the assembly, and it was especially important to show that you were no stranger to those parts.)

"Though I've lived here for the past 35 years, I was born, raised, and educated in that ultimate Government town, Washington, D.C. So it strikes me as especially strange and badly mistaken that so many people would stand up here and say that they don't want a health care program run by the Goverhment, on the grounds that the Government always does a very poor job of administering its programs.

"I want to ask what about the military? That's a government-run program. Do they really want to put our soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen under the command of the same species of private tycoons who, just in the last days of the year 2008 brought us what I call the "Great GWBush Stickup," or "The Bailout:" as it is more commonly called, so that financiers on Wall Street could start paying off the side bets such as credit default swaps that they had made in such profusion, unknown to the taxpayers, who were now dragooned into paying off those scam financial instruments, under what I regarded as the bogus threat of the setting in of another Great Depression?

"What about the Interstate highways? Do these objectors really say, "Mabel, let's not use this interstate, because it was built by the Government and is even still being maintained by the Government. Let's get on the backroads instead and take six weeks to get to Seattle." I don't think they say that!

"What about medicare? That's a government program, the last time I looked. After rushing her to the hospital do they really throw away Grandma's Medicare card and pay her bills out of her meager savings instead, or out of their own pockets? I don't think so.

"What about social security? Do they look forward to burning every social security check they get when the time comes, even if that's the only thing standing between them and utter destitution? I don't think so!

"When you've been a member of a certain, often despised minority group as long as I have, 78 years, you become pretty adept at being able to tell when, in referring to things applicable to your group, certain members of the majority are saying one thing when they really mean something else entirely. I think I've heard some of that tonight. I'm referring again to the frequent condemnations of "government-run" programs. Some of the concerns about those programs, such as efficiency and what-not, may be legitimate, but those speakers should be aware that they're lining themselves up elbow to elbow with a large number of objectors of a much more sinister kind.

"To bring that out into the light let's substitute what I believe a number of those anti-government-run-program people really mean, which is instead 'programs run by a President whose skin is not the right color.'

"Mr. Periello, my question is, when you and your Democratic colleagues up on Capitol Hill are meeting to thrash out the details of this reform, is there any feeling among you that despite all your hard work on this most important of bills, a great deal of the opposition, and maybe even most of it, is directed not really against the reforms but instead against the U.S. President who favors the changes, merely because they've been totally overcome by their antipathy toward Mr. Obama's Kenyan ancestry on his father's side, and especially as sexually coupled with his American ancestry on his mother's side? Thank you."

I know that this statement, too, would've been too long to be given there, but maybe one day soon they'll hold another such forum, and I'll get to give it there instead. And by then maybe I will have found a way to avoid abbreviating it too much, by instead delivering it at breakneck speed, yet clearly enough to be understood, though that could be well beyond my present physical abilities.

I can't say, however, that this is yet another case of my having missed a moment. It would've been impossible to say the above at the forum last Thursday, because it was contingent on the things I heard there, and I had no way to know ahead of time what those would be.


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