I've seen those faces before.
More than I'd like to recall, I've heard the vile words coming from their lips.
I have witnessed the hatred proclaimed on their crude signs and demonstrated in their violent actions.
And I long ago grew weary of their political leaders wrapped in the rhetoric of states' rights, interposition and the almighty 10th Amendment.
Oh, I know them, no matter what name or disguise they now wear. I know them well.
They were in Little Rock in 1957 as nine black students had to be escorted by U.S. troops to enroll at Central High School.
In 1962 these angry "patriots" were there when Gov. Ross Barnett of Mississippi tried desperately to keep James Meredith from registering at Ole Miss in Oxford.
They were present that day in 1963 when Gov. George Wallace stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama to block the entrance of two black students, and the day children and adults in the streets of Birmingham came face to face with the viciousness of Jim Crow.
Again in 1964 and 1965, as the Congress passed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, their defiant voices were heard.
The resistance was on display in 1967 when the Supreme Court struck down laws in 17 states, including Texas, that prohibited interracial marriage.
And now they're back, in full force, with a renewed contempt for authority and a reinvigorated scorn for those they deem to be their enemies.
On the eve of the vote in the House of Representatives to pass health care reform, those voices yelled racial and anti-gay epithets at members of Congress, with one demonstrator spitting on a black congressman.
It looked eerily like a scene from 1957 Little Rock or 1963 Birmingham, but these incidents occurred on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.
In the days after passage of the legislation, several Democratic members of Congress received death threats. Some Democratic offices were attacked by vandals.
The ugly American has reared his head again, spewing wrath at those he thinks are turning his country into a socialist nation bent on depriving him of liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.
Rather than strongly admonish the contemptible speech and despicable behavior, many Republican leaders and their conservative media cheerleaders either are silent on the issue or, more sadly, make excuses rationalizing their actions.
These leaders use analogies that employ words and images that suggest violence: "bomb," "reload" and "fire," for example.
Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, on her Twitter page, listed the names of 20 Democratic House members who voted for the healthcare bill, using rifle scope cross-hairs to pinpoint their home districts on a map.
The headline for the posting said, "Don't Retreat, Instead -- RELOAD."
Some of the most disgusting language and symbols during the healthcare debate were aimed at the president of the United States, declaring him a diabolical liar whose true aim was to destroy America.
"The American people have long fuses," talk show host Glenn Beck said the day after the bill's passage. "You can walk on us, lie to us and cheat us for a long time. But our [breaking point] was yesterday."
Rush Limbaugh screamed, "We need to defeat these bastards. We need to wipe them out. Defeat the Democrats, every one of them that voted for this bill."
The political discourse in this country has been foul for some time, but since Barack Obama's election, it has become sickening.
Those who sought to defeat the healthcare bill in order to bring down this presidency -- to make it Obama's "Waterloo" -- are naturally distraught to have been out-maneuvered by a president and a party for which they have no respect.
They have every right to campaign against him and the bill as the midterm elections approach. But they should not stoop to the vulgar politics of personal verbal attacks, violence and destruction.
I've been saying this for months, although I've held little hope that things would change for the better.
The echoes and visions of the past simply will not go away.
Unmasked and undaunted, it seems the disgruntled masses will not relent as they encourage each other to remain not just angry, but bitter.
We shall continue to see their irate faces, encounter their loud, disruptive voices and endure their hatred of those who simply disagree with them.
Oh, I know them. I know them well.