In the Heat of the Healthcare Debate

10-06-09, 9:18 am

Obama Ironing out Healthcare Deal with GOP   One day it dawned on me while watching that epic drama 'In the Heat of the Night' with Sidney Poitier. A feeling of sorrow many of us Negroes feel whenever we sense our Caucasian brethern feeling uneasy. A lot of White Americans are losing the good-old-days. Since I don't hear Joe Wilson calling me a liar I'll continue. Like Mr. Tibbs, President Obama has to go out into the unknown and solve a case that happened prior to his arrival. Whereas Detective Tibbs searched for the murderer of a man who was going to build a factory in a economically depressed small southern town that would provide steady work for working-class whites and blacks, Obama has to search for free health insurance in an economically depressed nation. The fictional events in that 1967 film serve as a microcosm to the realities of one black man trying to solve a puzzle amidst a hostile environment today. 

Remember when Detective Tibbs backhands Eric Endicott in his own garden. Understand the discussion they were having; a conversation about a plant: 'isn't that remarkable, that of all the orchids in this place you should prefer the epiphytics. I wonder if you know why,' the man asked Obam...errrr Tibbs. 'Because like the neegra, they need care and feedin' and cultivatin' and that takes time. That's something you can't make some people understand.' Don't get me wrong, I'm not drawing the kind of comparison you think. Mr. Endicott is not Joe Wilson. Yes ole Joe is in the movie, he's that stupid redneck in the restaurant; Ralph Henshaw, gettin' jiggy at the jukebox over 'Fowl Owl on the Prowl' and hidin' an apple pie from a deputy (we won't even explore the mountainous room for speculation on that one.). Actually Henshaw has a duel role; Joe-Six-Pack. He is no different than the average jabroni of today. He certainly stood to gain a significant upgrade in his tax bracket with the building of that factory one way or another, but he is so busy being a typical mindless everyman concerned only with immediate gratification, that he even turns out to be the wealthy Colbert's murderer (actually just a robbery attempt, all the jank wanted was money to pay for an abortion). Today Henshaw would be one of those hell-bent town hall Obama-haters, spewing talk of shooting Obama and stopping health care reform, while either being uninsured or paying through the nose for partial coverage.

Endicott represents the insurance companies today. Gouging prices with impunity while refusing to treat pre-existing conditions. Endicott's pre-existing condition was racism, otherwise how could he just bluntly slap Tibbs just for questioning him? After catching one back on the blackhand-side, he looks at Chief Gillespie: 'You saw it.' 'Yeah I saw it.' 'Well what are you going to do about it?' The Chief says 'nothing (Gillespie must be the Democratic Party).' Endicott then looks at Tibbs and says 'years ago, I could've had you shot.' Once Tibbs and Gillespie turn to walk away, no... once Endicott's Black butler walks away, Endicott starts crying. That's the point, the cry is a concurrent realization that Detective Tibbs-like President Obama-wasn't just any private dick and the 'good old days,' for corporate America may be going fast and it's Obama's public option that's getting many a white male in this country hot and bothered.

This focus on race, i.e. statements fingering white racism as the true culpret behind the protests and outcry against Obama's healthcare bill isn't new. Back on 3/27 Brazillian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva charged that the global financial crises was caused by 'white people with blue eyes... it's not an idealogical question. The fact is that once again we find that most of the poor who have not even participated in globalization have been the first victims of the crises.' President da Silva uttered those bold words while standing next to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a news conference in Brasilia. Of course I just happened to stumble on to this report, American news outlets weren't anxious to circulate this to the masses.

The insurance companies construe President Obama as being just as uppity as Endicott saw Tibbs; filthy rich but wanting the law and the town's folk to do their dirty work. Who else has the power to 'pull this [collective] fat cat down' and 'bring him right off this hill' as Detective Tibbs wanted? Most importantly, don't all plants need 'care and feedin'' to some degree? What's the problem? The problem is seen as in who is the one using big government to feed the undesirables universal health care? Our undesirable Black President. Maybe the 'good old days' for everyone are just beginning.

See the clip of In the Heat of the Night:

--Chris Stevenson is a syndicated columnist, his articles also appear on his blog; the Buffalo Bullet. Contact him at