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. terry, va

    This is not a racist country. If it were Obama would not have been elected. Maybe we would be better off if it was. Then we wouldn't have a radical socialist in office. Wake up people!!! It is not the color of his skin that is causing the uproar. It is is radical policies and his slick misleading statements of what those policies are.

    September 22, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  2. Willsooooon!!!

    On one hand, I agree that the fall out was far greater than expected. Just the fact that it distracted the nation from health care is bad enough, let alone triggering the KKK.

    On the other hand, I would say you're giving Joe Wilson waaaaaaaaay too much credit.

    September 22, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  3. Doug

    So........... How is the deep end of the pool Representative Johnson? I think your over-thinking things just a wee bit. Get some rest.

    September 22, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  4. thetruthisoutthere

    i felt this was done on purpose as soon as it happened...you don't do something like that and then go "oh wow, sorry ...that was out loud...sorry, forgot where i was" – yeah, right – people who believe that are still looking for the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq

    September 22, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  5. Dan

    I'm sorry, but all you apologists for racism don't seem to get it. Where were the people of color at the 9/12 Beck party? When Wilson yelled he simply left off one word: YOU LIE BOY!

    September 22, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  6. Get real!

    We Won Get Over It??? Are you kidding me? This is EXACTLY why we are in the position we are in!! You simply want to discard nearly half of what the country believes and feels. That doesn't solve anything; it just continues to bred discontent. Discontent is exactly what the Democrats did when the Republicans were in control so please explain to me why you are right and they are not? You also say that the Bush administration was responsible for the mess we are in; when do we as individuals accept responsibility? The government didn't make each of us go and spend beyond our means; that was an individual choice. I will admit they made it easier but they didn't force us to do it.

    September 22, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  7. Ky

    Wilson planned this for a very long time. It's about the only way he could get his 15 minutes of fame in the sun and yes, he planned the fund raising angle as well.

    Let's face the ugly truth, even Pres. Obama knows that all these flames are fuelled by 99% racism. He's only tempering his reaction just because it's politically incorrect for him to outrightly admit that Joe Wilson is racist.

    I'm a proud American but we haven't gone half-way in erradicating racism in this country. Tha't the fact that most people are afraid to admit.

    September 22, 2009 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  8. ken

    We Won Get Over It: You will have to change your name come 2010. We are gonna CLEAN house!

    September 22, 2009 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  9. Liz in CA

    DUH...of COURSE it was calculated. He's running for reelection against a strong Democrat. This unacceptable behavior was designed to rile up his more conservative (relative to his own rather strict conservatis) to donate and to rally. I thought how Obama handled the matter was gracious, much more than Wilson deserved. And I'd have PAID to be a fly on the wall when Wilson made that "apology" call that the White House Chief of Staff answered (Emanuel)...that would have been "interesting" indeed. Black, white, or other races, Republician, independent, or Democrat, male or female, most of us know that you do NOT shout down the President during an adddres to Congress. There are accepted ways to protest, but Wilson's behavior was beyond the pall. Hopefully, the people in his home state who were offended by his behavior will continue to donate to his opponent's campaign and Wilson will have to find a new job at which common courtesy and appropriate behavior are not "required".

    September 22, 2009 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Is this a calculated move from CNN. One way to keep the constitutents of a party happy is to continue to show how poorly the other side acts. He has been a non-player in Congress for some time, this is his 15 seconds of fame.

    September 22, 2009 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  11. Sophocles

    Wilson was totally out of line. But now his outburst is being used by some to paint anyone who disagrees with the president as a racist. This is about a low as you can go.

    September 22, 2009 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  12. Susan

    So how is it when we knew Bush was lying, and called him on it, we were called traitors. When Wilson calls Obama a liar for something he did NOT lie about, he is a hero? I cannot understand how Republicans still support Bush's illegal activity and wasting of lives and our treasury for 8 years, while they SEE the destruction he caused to this country, but they are so very worried about every step Obama makes. And they don't think they are the least bit racist? If Hillary were President, I doubt she'd be under this kind of scrutiny from Repubs. And there wouldn't be people carrying loaded weapons either.

    September 22, 2009 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  13. Idiot_Pelosi

    Hank Johnson is an idiiot. How does a clown like this get elected to Congress? The WILSON incident is over, move on.

    Even if you disagree, the more you bring it up, the more attention it gets.

    Hanky Boy, You are embarassing yourself, but then again, what else is new?

    DUMocRAT in action.

    September 22, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  14. md

    this is the most silliest conclusion i have ever heard.

    September 22, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  15. GuyInVA

    Wow! First come tea parties. The left hates them, so they were calculated. Remember "astro turf"? Now, after Wilson's opponent begins to raise money after the outburst, Wilson responds by passing the two million dollar mark in donations. Therefore, it was calculated. The American people can't possibly be able to think for themselves (unless, of course, they vote democrat). As for the racism charge... grow up. Are there some racists against the president? Of course. Did some racists vote FOR and continue to support the president? Yes. But screaming racism every time someone disagrees with the president is pathetic. I, like many others, am tired of constantly hearing how white people who disagree (civilly or otherwise) with black politicians or "community leaders" are racist. Must be the man keeping me down.

    I once saw the great Homer Simpson spout the leftist motto when on trial. It went as follows: "Quick! Play the race card! Play it! PLAY IT!"

    September 22, 2009 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  16. Tim Hatton

    I wish CNN would interview experts on race relations. I would be interested in a non partisan opinion on this matter.

    September 22, 2009 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  17. Chris

    Way to go Dems. Keep perpetuating the myth that anyone who disagrees with POTUS is a racist. You are the ones complaining that racism still lingers, but you wonder why! I don't disagree that racism is out there, but it is on all sides and perpetrated by all colors. Stop and listen to those differing opinions before you label anyone speaking out (or just plain disagreeing with POTUS) a racist.

    September 22, 2009 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  18. Biased

    It is comments like this coming from the democratic party that are beyond the pale. As an independent I am sick to death of all these people crying "racist" every time they open their mouth and now bring up the KKK. The man said "You lie". Since when is that racist and since when is everyone now a reincarnation of Johnny Carson's Carnack? Dowd says she could just hear him almost saying "you lie. boy". Well, he didn't and that might be wishful thinking on your part so as to enrage the flames between the two major parties even more. The allegations thrown at this man are horrendous. If he is to be guilty of what he might have believed or did in his past, then I want to declare that I am disgusted that Obama used illegal drugs. Can I assume him to still be a lawbreaker then for his past deeds? I am seriously to the point that I don't know whether democrats are trying to ensure Obama is a one term President or not, because a lot of people are tired of being branded for expressing an opinion contrary to a democrat's and may find that listening to this garbage for 4 years is enough.

    September 22, 2009 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  19. Walter

    How absurd. If anything, however disrespectful, it shows that we still have free speech.

    September 22, 2009 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  20. Charles W. Skinner

    Rep. Johnson, I don't remember you making one peep over the last 8 years while YOUR PARTY members were dishonoring the office of the President with the slanderous lies, accusations and comparisons that members of the Democrat party were throwing around.

    You, sir, are a hypocrite. When you decide to have some integrity, perhaps the public will start to take you seriously again.

    September 22, 2009 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  21. diamond j

    its not about race or color of skin its about the wierd stuff the liberals believe in.

    September 22, 2009 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  22. Shibumi

    After Johnson opened his yap last week, I sent a check to Wilson for $200. I hope Johnson shuts his mouth soon. I can't afford this.

    BRING ON 2010!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 22, 2009 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  23. enrikey

    Yup, if you disagree with Obama's policies you are a racist. True stories.

    September 22, 2009 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  24. Robert

    Addison Graves ("Joe") Wilson's political mentor was that vicious old racial bigot, Strom Thurmond.

    Thurmond had fathered a daughter, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, with an 16 year old African-American girl who was the Thurmond family's maid. Old South buiness as usual.

    Wilson publicly claimed Essie Mae was a liar (does this sound familiar) in saying that Thurmond was her father. The Wilson outburst then: “It’s a smear on the image that [Thurmond] has as a person of high integrity who has been so loyal to the people of South Carolina,”
    But it is now very well established that Essie Mae was NOT a liar,and Thurmond was indeed the father.

    September 23, 2009 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  25. sick of the Bull

    wow, this dude is seriously grasping for attention. Hmmm. Wonder why? yeah, you guessed it.

    September 23, 2009 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
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