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. Barbara - Atlanta GA

    I agree with the Congressman...CNN has polled the question, "what are so many people angry about" I think we know but just keep blaming it on the economy or healthcare...it's more to it.

    September 22, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. Matt

    Democrats and Liberals NEED for their to be racism so they can explain away why Obama is becoming such a failure.

    The problem is the facts don't lie and America does not trust him. He wanted the health care bill passed back on August 8th so they would only have 3-5 days to look the bill over and accept what some SEIU or Apollo Alliance idiot put in the bill.

    The fact that he wants to rush everything and not open things up to an honest debate is Obama's problem not the color of his skin.

    September 22, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. Bonnie

    Totally agree. Be careful what you ask for, just might get it!!!

    September 22, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  4. Jerry

    I am a black man who voted for Obama and it sounds like the only one racist is Hank Johnson. I disagree with the president on health care reform, so does that make me racist. Has he ever thought that Obama might be telling a lie? He wouldn't be the first president or the last, the only difference is that Obama's lie could bankrupt america and hurt millions of hard working families to the point we can never recover financially, and that is why people are so angry including Joe Wilson and myself.

    September 22, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. Pepou

    Wilson defends the Confederate flag and is a well-known racist in Georgia.

    September 22, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. Ben in Oil City Pa.

    Oh, brother you said it! And it's right!

    September 22, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. Really?

    A true supporter of equality for all will stand up and disagree with his own and tell the truth about a matter.

    Thank you Johnson for telling the truth. Not many whites will do this even though they believe it in their heart. Many are cowards.

    September 22, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  8. Kirkland WA

    Well said! There is surely a racist fringe that cannot simply be ignored. Left unrebuked and denounced, the sentiment may fester and they may become emboldend to to worse things. The country has come way too far to let this fringe to derail our progress.

    September 22, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. RH

    I agree with Congressman Johnson.

    September 22, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  10. Chad

    . . . Uhhh, That's what the Secret Service is for.

    September 22, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Canadian

    So far this is the most insightful and intelligent analysis of Wilson's act. Kudos to you Rep. Johnson, for telling it like it is.

    September 22, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. Garland

    I agree! For a public figure to yell an outburst like that to the President just gives idiots like the KKK a boost. I think Wilson should be barred from any agenda at the house.

    September 22, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. scott in atlanta

    He's right. And to all of those who say that just because you oppose President Obama's policies, you're being called a racist... Well thats simply not true.

    But some are. As my father used to say to me, the guilty dog will bark. So if the label racist doesn't pertain to you, then why are you speaking up so vocally against it? No one is talking about you, right?

    September 22, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. Ashley

    I think Republican Joe Wilson and his fellow Republicans will do and say anything to create violence and hatred in America. They are NOT the party that our mothers and fathers once supported. Sad.

    September 22, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. bigdog

    This guys comments offend me. I am so sick of being called a racist by these so called representatives.

    September 22, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  16. Tom C in NY

    There appears to be mounting evidence that Addison Wilson is a neo-Confererate racist. So, I tend to agree with Rep. Johnson, who probably knows the mindset of white, far right conservatives from the South.

    September 22, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Steve

    Enough of the racism stuff. If you can't move above it you only embolden them.
    Far right racist are a loud, obnoxious and uneducated bunch... stop helping them gain any credibility by engaging with them.

    September 22, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. Former soldier

    While I am not sure it was completely calculated, I will say this. I watched the speech live and my immediate reaction when I heard Wilson cry out was the he might as well have added "boy" to his loud retort. No facts behind my comment, I freely admit. Just my gut reaction when it occurred. Sadly, you in the media have made him out as a hero to many, and THAT is a sad commentary on the state of our culture. It is unfortunate that WIlson and his colleagues on that side of the aisle have nothing else to offer to American as solutoins to problems other that, "You lie". I am gravely concerned about our country's future if the Republican party continues on this path.

    September 22, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. Rob

    Hank Johnson shows his hand....and a Royal Flush of race cards. Way to go Hank! Obama's tanking, you libs can't legislate your way out of a barrel, and you manage to whittle it all down to two words, spoken in truth, reflecting a sentiment a majority of Americans feel about Obama and the Dems in Congress, and turn it into a race issue.

    Wislon's comment will not lead to a revitalization of the KKK, but your comments will lead to a revitalization of stupidity and allow you, your fellow libs in Washington, Jimmy Carter, and the media (especially the yutzes at MSNBC) to go on more of your stupid rants about how the only reason someone would disagree with Obama is because they can't handle a black president. It's not that they can't handle a black president, it's that they can't stand watching a man who is so inexperienced for the job he's in ruining this country more and more each day.

    September 22, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  20. Jacob

    That is moronic. No one in their right mind wants a racist as a constituent or even a friend if you have any scruples. Wilson messed up and admitted he was wrong and disrespectful. Get me a break.

    September 22, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  21. Carl from MI

    He's a joke and a coward. He disrespected the Office of the President of the United States of America.

    He's unpatriotic... exactly the same thing the Republicans called anyone who disagreed with Bush and the war in Iran!!

    According to Ann Coulter... he should be tried and hung for treason!!

    September 22, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. Frank Stello

    With today's technology in law enforcement and the FBI, a superior secret service detail, and "The Beast", the kkk will wander out of the
    50's only to realize that "they're not in kansas anymore".

    (I think the President is pretty safe.)

    September 22, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. S Callahan

    I don't agree it was incite racism..but I do suspect there was some political manuvering in it....I mean...look at the photo with Joe and his two peers at the sides of him...there smirk was just too obvisous.

    No, this isn't to open more doors for the KKK , it was to reve up the bankaccount for reelection...and it just happen to benifit the Dems to. Go figure! lol

    September 22, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. suresh

    I completely agree. Some of the right wingers are against Obama simply because of skin color. Last year after the election I felt so proud about how our country had finally moved away from racism. Well it is not so yet.

    Unfortunately these people do not understand that Obama's policies are actually good for them. They are being used by Republicans just to bring obstacles to Obama so that he does not succeed. Healthcare opposition is a very good example of how Republicans are making up things like "Death Panels", "Government take over of healthcare", etc to frighten people. GOP has no shame in lying to achieve their goals no matter how bad it is for the country.

    September 22, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  25. Joyce in South Carolina

    Exactly!!!!! Joe Wilson knew what he was saying would get a lot of publicity.

    September 22, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
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