September 22nd, 2009
07:15 PM ET
9 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."

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soundoff (289 Responses)
  1. Drew

    The USA is filled with racists – both Black & White, Democratic and Republican – Northern and Southern, and so what? Who cares? I am an African-American and I couldn't give a flying fart out of a bat's butt about who doesn't like me in this country because of the color of my skin. And your dislike for me determines what? And why should I care? Either we get down to business as a nation and solve our problems or watch it continue to deteriorate academically, economically, socially, etc. After all, even the great Roman Empire fell! You decide, either way, I'm still a Black Man and proud of it! And if that bothers you, well, you know what you can kiss...!

    September 22, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  2. Wanda in Florida

    I agree. I grew up in the south and this is exactly what this is about. When someone like Joe Wilson does something like he did he opens the door for all the nut jobs out there. Unfortunately racism is alive and well in the south.

    September 22, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  3. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    Wilson should be impeached for trying to rase a hate issue in our great nation . those who would or will follow this ass (Wilson) . need to stop and think . did any one of these racist people have the ability to choose how or who they were when they were born? NOT !!!! so each of you are only skin deep, and stupid .
    fire it up ready to go....
    we beleive in change and some of these idiots hate the idea . the media should not listen nor ensite the ideas of KKK or any other group of hate threat and fear.

    Gary Davis
    Harbor Oregon

    September 22, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  4. Abbott

    I agree with him.

    He is not saying that all opponents of Obama are racist - only that some are, which is undeniably true. It only takes one sufficiently riled-up kook . . . can we say . . . James Earl Ray . . .

    September 22, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  5. i suppose

    Of course its racism. Grow up

    September 22, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  6. Conservative

    I completely agree. Bravo! for something daring to speak the truth.

    September 22, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  7. Richard C

    The outburst was calculated - not by the KKK, but by the GOP, in advance, to steal the news cycle from the president's speech. The most disturbing part? It worked.

    September 22, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    ive heard it all now.....geez

    September 22, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  9. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Hank, if the people in Georgia's 4th congressional district wanted a representative that would spew stupidity and psycho-babble and embarrass them, they would have kept Cynthia McKinney. Stop your race-bating and do something constructive.

    September 22, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  10. Jim Q.

    How someone could suggest that the Republicans might harbor major racist sentiments is a shock to me! I mean, who could imagine that such educated and careful-thinking individuals could feel such a way. It's certainly not anything that has been expressed by them before. Certainly not something the party has a history of. Certainly not a trait common to their demographic or the states they now populate. Oh, no. Who could suggest such a thing?

    September 22, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  11. bill

    I've lived in the south all of my life, and I know racism when I see it. This was not racism. It was a carefully, planned, skit put on by the Republicans to take the heat off of the healthcare fiasco and to further divide the country so that the Obama administration cannot get anything accomplished during his term.

    The Republicans are willing for this country to lose in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere to promote their re-election to the whitehouse. We've already seen them block any type of financial recovery action and now they are blocking any type of healthcare reform.

    They are interested in nothing that helps to rebuild this country. They are willing to tear it down in order to get back into power.

    September 22, 2009 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  12. Letcommonsenseprevail

    Well, well, well. Apparently everyone seems to have conveniently forgotten that our president was elected through intimidation. Anyone remember the case against the New Black Panthers and charges of voter intimidation? Of course not, they were dropped without explanation. I'm not saying anything, I'm just seems like the charges of racism are coming from the wrong end of the political spectrum. But that would be racist of me to say that.

    September 22, 2009 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  13. VC, MD

    Democrats are the one who use class wars to stay in power and they try to increase the government size to increase their power. That's why they were OK with Clinton lying under oath but they are angry with Wilson for calling out a liar. Obama has been misrepresenting the facts since the beginning. He has never done any work properly in his life. When he was a law student, he was writing editorials. When he was a lawyer, he was doing community service. When he was a senator in Illinois, he was planning a run for US Senate. When he was in US senate, he was planning a run for US President. Now he is planning to usher in socialism. He will ruin US by killing the meritocracy and promoting meritocracy. And democrats are calling everybody racist who tries to question his ridiculous claims and Washington accounting to claim the Health care bill won't add to deficit.

    September 22, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  14. Dennis

    I guess I'm a racist because I think Obama is lying too. The truth be told, I would have given anything for Colin Powell to be President. He has earned respect, has a record of accomplisment, and by the way is blacker than Barack Obama. I dislike Obama because of his policies, just as I disliked Al Gore for his policies. This has nothing to do with skin color. Obama's lack of fiscal responsibility will take decades to overcome.

    September 22, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  15. samiam

    Who CARES what Johnson thinks!!! Just because some fringe, and racially motivated, democrat decides that he knows what was in a republican's mind at a specific point in time (and in a way that fits his own agenda) doesn't mean that CNN or anyone else needs to give it legitmate and valuable airtime. Shame on CNN for spreading the baseless and politically motivated conjectures of an incredibly biased and ignorant source.

    September 22, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  16. Jo Lindy

    If you look at the widely circulated photo of Wilson in mid-outburst, you note that the gentlemen seated on either side of him are looking straight ahead. This strikes me as strange.... If I were listening to the President speak to Congress and the guy sitting next to me shouted at him, I would look at him. While a single photo never tells the whole story, this one raises a question: Did Wilson alert them beforehand? I wonder.

    September 22, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  17. Knucklehead61

    Anyone who flies the confederate flag is a traitor. Of course Joe Wilson is a racist. Think he could get elected in SC if he wasn't?

    September 22, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  18. Richard Puddicombe

    Naughty naughty Mr. Hanky Panky.

    September 22, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  19. Normal-American

    Actually, I caught Obama in at least 13 either half truths or down right lies myself.

    I was so mad that Obama was soooo BLATANT in his lying that I wanted throw something at the TV.

    Come on America READ the BILL like I have.

    OPEN YOUR MIND before it is too late.

    September 22, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  20. Howard

    I am convinced that Wilson's "you lie" was simply him channelling the millions of TV viewers who were shouting the same thing at their TV. And, no matter what Jimmy Carter says, it has nothing to do with Racism in 90% of those homes. To steal a phrase from Bill Clinton's campaign, It's "the deficit stupid."

    September 22, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  21. Dan

    WHY is the racism card being played. Did Wilson say anything racist? No, he said, "You lie!" Plain and simple. Yes our President is black, and yes there a many people upset about that, but Joe Wilson was not voicing racist sentiment that night. He was calling out Obama's health care reform for what it is, a lie! NOT RACISM! GET OVER IT!

    September 22, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  22. Rohan Lucas

    Well, I do not believe there is much of a correlation, but if you really think about it, the fact that Wilson has been described as 'canny' reflects his vast magical knowledge. From an outsider's perspective, there may be evidence to suggest he has more to do with the Ministry of Magic than a 'hanky panky' kind of person may believe. Dumbledore, before his tragic and untimely death, once compared a small fox to that of a lying politician, and I believe the conniving Wilson can take much from this observation.

    September 22, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  23. Wally

    Way to go CNN! Keep playing to the public's perception of the media as being only interested in reciting namecalling and mudslinging! No journalism here, only he-said-he-said. Soon, no one will be watching. We've all got better things to do with our time than read your "news".....including me....why am I even typing this?

    September 22, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  24. John from California

    That element as the congressman should be investigated by Homeland Security as home grown terrorists.

    These people have no respect for the United States of America and some like the Governor of Texas are talking openly of seceding from the United States.

    That in my humble opinion makes them traitors and with their call for violence they are outright terrorists.

    It is high time to expand the Department of Homeland Security and it's also time to weed out all those hired in violation of the Civil Service Act by the last Administration.

    The time for action is now, it's time to protect our Country!

    September 22, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  25. Florida Joe

    After these racists have told us plainly that they can not stand the idea of a black man as President, if you doubt that racism plays a part in some oppostion to President Obama, you are either dumb or a closet racist yourself!

    September 22, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
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