September 22nd, 2009
07:15 PM ET
5 years ago

Georgia congressman: Wilson's outburst 'carefully calculated'

Georgia congressman: Wilson's outburst 'carefully calculated'.
Georgia congressman: Wilson's outburst 'carefully calculated'.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Rep. Hank Johnson is standing by his comments that Rep. Joe Wilson's "You lie!" outburst at President Obama "instigated more racist sentiment" and could lead to a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan.

Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, wrote in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Monday that he doesn't think that most of Obama's opponents are motivated by racism, but that he believes Wilson's comments "winked at a racist element" and that there is a small but "racially motivated fringe" among those who disapprove of the president and his policies.

"Wilson is a canny politician," Johnson said. "His outburst was a carefully calculated appeal to a particular constituency who question the legitimacy of Barack Obama's presidency. The symbolism of his act, which violated the rules of the House and attacked the dignity of the president's office, emboldened and validated those who believe that President Obama, despite having been lawfully elected, is an illegitimate occupant of the White House."

Johnson said that some feel "resentment that the president of the United States is a black man" and that the "risk of violence is real." He said he believes some of the angry protests during town hall meetings over the summer were also motivated by racism and warned that if that element of some opposition is ignored, it will "fester, grow and come back to haunt us in ways we haven't seen in decades."

"That is, ultimately, what my comments were meant to convey," he said. "The United States has shown a capacity for progress and self-improvement virtually unprecedented in human history. But let us not believe that the bad old days are so far behind us that racially driven violence could not once again rend our social fabric."

Johnson ultimately said he will not apologize for saying last week that Wilson's comments could lead to a revitalization of the Ku Klux Klan.

"I guess we'll probably have folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside, intimidating people," Johnson said on September 15. "That's the logical conclusion if this kind of attitude is not rebuked."


Filed under: Extra • Joe Wilson • Popular Posts
soundoff (289 Responses)
  1. Rodrigo

    That is the stupidest logical conclusion ever.

    September 22, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  2. Polar Bears Against Palin

    So true. All these right-wing, uneducated fanatics are racists. Now, excuse me...I'm going back to my Mozart CDs.

    September 22, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. rr

    More people trying to insulate the President from criticism by hinting that anyone critical of the President is racist.

    I guess when blacks complained about Bush and Reagan, they did so because of race too.

    Ludicrous. Since when can people not disagree with someone of a different race without being racist?

    September 22, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. Doug, New Jersey

    Don't worry, there won't be violence from these protests that are soley and only about a government that is taking our rights, freedoms, and wealth, the leftist extremists who are always violent when they are protesting now are too busy with becoming Czar's in the current administration.

    For the record, the lib media did not cover the tea party protests. Saying that a bunch of racist right wingers were blocking the streets in DC while focusing on the lib plants and their racist signs, does not count, fox was correct, once again.

    September 22, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. Rick in OP

    Nice try Rep. Johnson but throwing the race card this time is not going to work. As usual, when a Liberal is losing an argument, as a last resort they will accuse their opponent of racism. It is similar to the story of the little boy who cried wolf. The term has been used so many times it has now lost all of it’s meaning.

    September 22, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. wisconsin

    I think that Rep. Johnson's assessment of the events is right on the money! The Republicans are using the racist elements in this society for their own political gain. It's up to the rest of us to call them out and make sure that it backfires on them!

    September 22, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  7. jon

    Rep. Johnson obviouisly needs to adjust his meds...he is a liberal nut job.

    September 22, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. frank

    How convenient that the reporter neglected to mention that Hank Johnson is black.

    September 22, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. A Georgia Republican

    You are so wrong Hank Johnson! All you ever do is yell "Racism". I've watched you for years and you have never changed. No matter what anyone says, if you don't like what they said, it's racism. Why don't you look in the mirror. You will discover one of the problems behind racism. By the way, you are a disgrace to Georgia!

    September 22, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  10. A Democrat of 51 years who has finally got smart to their follishness.

    YEAH. Well caculated or not; IT WAS THE TRUTH. oBama has a bill on his desk waiting for his signature giving millions of illegals free citizianship making them elgible for medicare, human resources, social security and welfare as soon as his health bill passes congress. THE AMERICANS NEED TO BEWARE OF THIS MAN WHEATHER AFRICAN AMERICAN, CAUCASION OR RED.

    September 22, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  11. Andrew

    If you can't base your outbursts on the facts, then it begs the question of what IS the motivating factor then. It is clear to anyone that the guidelines in the bill prevent those here illegally from getting government assistance, and yet Wilson still had that outburst. The conflict wasn't related to the facts obviously so what was it then? What got him so riled up he needed to shout down the president in the middle of his speech?

    September 22, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. Brain Dead in Ohio

    Now, if conservatives can honestly deny that at least some of their fellow opponents of Barack Obama are not racist, then you've found the ones who qualify.

    Look, acting like racism still doesn't exist beacuse we have a half-black President is just willful ignorance.

    As a matter of fact, I'd say that a majority of the current Republican platform (mind you, current) is based on willfully limited perspectives and symbolic speech filled with chicken-little hypothetical doom scenarios.

    All demanding 'their cooutry back.' Back from who?

    September 22, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. Melissa

    While I think the remarks about the KKK smacks of insane extremism, as a white woman, I have to agree with Johnson on the rest of what he's saying. Wilson obviously planned it, especially since he spoke during a time when the President was speaking about a particularly hot topic within Health Care, but I don't think Wilson expected the result.

    September 22, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  14. ER

    Obama is just as much a white man as he is a black man. Who cares! THIS IS NOT ABOUT RACE, IT IS ABOUT TRUTH!

    September 22, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. mark

    finally someone with the guts to talk the truth.... face it, our society is just like he said, behind closed doors we are horrible people who can't change unless we own up to it

    September 22, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  16. slp

    I suppose it will be racist of me to ask why the heck our esteemed president is so silent on the flooding in Georgia. Actually, I don't care. Atlanta is a strong city and as a Georgian I know what we are made of. It just amazes me that George W. Bush was slammed unmercifully for what some saw as a poor response to Hurricane Katrina (it wasn't). But I forgot, the Messiah can do no wrong. And I guess I will hear from all of you how this doesn't even compare to Katrina. Tell that to those who have lost their homes and have lost family members.

    September 22, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  17. Matt, Manchester, CT

    So will the Congressman also concede that Jesse Jackson's "Hymie Town" comments years ago heightened anti-Semitism? Or does the sword only cut one way for this hypocrite?

    September 22, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  18. diridi

    this dude is another idiot...just like typical republican idiots...who messed the nation...entirely...tirelessly...just like big idiots like George Bush...Dicky cheyney....idiots...

    September 22, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  19. Kirven Dunham

    I agree 100%. I talked to some of my white friends and they said that in private they are hearing some very ugly stuff from other whites. If these "people" are allowed to spread their hate it will create an up tick on the KKK and other groups. But this time we will be ready and we will fight back.

    The GOP need to be really careful here. Most people see these people as part of the GOP, and all non-white male groups will run as far away from the GOP as possible. Remember, the United States is becoming less white and less male every day. The GOP main source of support is declining while the Democrats' support groups (black, Hispanic, gays/lesbian, non-Catholics, Asian, etc.) is growing.

    The problem is that the GOP just love to hate.

    September 22, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. David S. Robins

    Bravo to Representative Johnson for his courage in calling Joe Wilson a racist. It's good to know there are some decent people in the South who aren't afraid to condemn racism when they see it.

    September 22, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  21. Ted

    The struggle of the black man/african american continues and will continue for a very long time. The Obama presidency is legitimate. What is sad is that the racism and bigotry, started many years ago, will continue to fester. I really don't understand it. It is only skin color. So many african americans have proven themselves and have been very successful. Obama, Colin Powell, Bill Cosby, Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey, Clarence Thomas, the list is near endless.

    The bigots are very small people, insecure in their own white skin.

    September 22, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. Itchy

    Wow...that's new!!! A politician would NEVER LIE...and those that think he would has absolutely got to be a racist. It couldn't possibly be anything else since the senator is white.

    CNN I am abandoning your politcal news reporting. You truly suck!!!!

    September 22, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. MikeWall

    Five words: Rep. Johnson is absolutely correct! (And those that deny it are both naive and blind to the impending danger.)

    September 22, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  24. munchmom

    Why is telling someone that they are lying, regardless of the color of their skin, racist??? I don't like Obama, but it isn't because of his race. I am a Republican, not a racist! If Colin Powell or Condelezza Rice ran on the Republican ticket I would vote for them hands down. Obama is not a good president–he is not focused, he is infatuated with himself, and he cannot handle what he is up against. I don't like him because of his arrogance and his inability to properly govern, not because he is black. Give us who don't like him or his policies some credit for being smart enough to know when we are not racist. I also don't need politicians telling me when and when I am not racist. I think I could figure that one out myself!!

    (CNN, please post, even though it is anti-Obama.)

    September 22, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. Bob the Observer

    Who can say "paranoid" with me? It's raging paranoia like this that causes the problems we have. Sometimes it lasts for a lifetime (see "Jimmy Carter"), but it is curable.

    I may not see eye-to-eye with our President, but he could teach a lot of these Chicken Littles a lesson or two about a healthy self-image and staying on task.

    September 22, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
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