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. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Didn't this wingnut catch Obama on Letterman last night? Obama got a huge laugh by pointing out that he was already black when elected, and has stated that race isn't an issue. If it's not with him, why is it for any of the politically correct liberals who need to get a life?

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

    Rep. Johnson is correct about the racism in reference to President Obama. I am glad people like he and others are finally speaking out. I have not seen this kind of hate, anger, bitterness and racism since the 60's during the Civil Rights Movement. I have lived in the South my entire 60 years. We still have people fighting the Civil War and they are not able to move on. Most of the racism comes from people with low self-esteem because they have not accomplished much in life. They want to put down others and blame them for their own problems in life. This is how they are able to feel better about themselves. The people that have been stroking the kind of hate, bitterness and racism don't realize what they have unleashed. There is nothing wrong with freedom of speech but this has gone too far and it is tearing our country apart. I don't worry about terrorists anymore but I do worry about being safe around some of these people if you disagree with them.

    September 22, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  3. Finrod

    Hank Johnson is from the same congressional district that elected and re-elected extreme moonbat Cynthia McKinney. Enough said.

    September 22, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  4. David-TX

    Todays Republican Party is made of thugs who have NO respect for anybody who doesn't think exactly how they do. The Republican Party is not the party our mothers and fathers once supported.

    September 22, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  5. pat cochran

    i agree with johnson, wilson is a racist and he knew what he was doing. it is very sad but true that some americans hate our president because he is black. i am very proud of president obama and these nasty hate mongering teabaggers need to understand that we the majority and white i might add voted this man into office and president obama is doing OUR will. WE the majority will re-elect this president even though we are not out there ranting like beck or hannity, we are a silent majority that is standing behind our leader.

    September 22, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  6. anonymous

    Isn't that what's happening already? People showing up at President Obama's meetings armed with rifles and assault weapons? First amendment rights, my fanny. Those nut jobs are there to intimidate just as the KKK did back in the 19th and 20th centuries.

    Nancy Pelosi asked both parties to dial down the rhetoric because she's seen first hand what happens when vicious, bigoted rhetoric because violent bigoted actions and yet she was branded as being an alarmist by John Beyner and other republicans.

    September 22, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  7. Jaxson

    Republicans are proving to be calculating devils.

    September 22, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. Truthsayer

    I too, believe that all of the parts of what has been going on has been calculated with precision by the republican parties, from the tea parties to the You lie outburst.

    September 22, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Obama worst president EVER

    oh please – Get over it already. It's not the rudest thing that's ever happened to a president in that chamber. Just ask George Bush.

    September 22, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. Big Red

    What an idiot!

    September 22, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. Traj

    We are not afraid of them now though. Back in the day, there was no recourse.. Today, we all have power. And we are not afraid to use it. I am an empoered person, and I am not afraid of some idiot who is afraid to show himself by hiding behind a sheet.

    September 22, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. D. Tree

    Well Rep. Wilson has sure managed to profit from his outburst.

    He's $2 million richer because of it, and shows no sign of regret or apology.

    Its as if it was all an act on his part.

    September 22, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. geecee

    Just a thought – Please don't report how much money Wilson's opponent has raised. We wouldn't want to upset the Rethuglicans who are sending this 3rd rate racist Joe Wilson lots of money for his re-election, since they are all so proud of him.

    September 22, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. Walter

    Congressman Johnson is right on target.

    Both he President Carter, who grew up watching southern white politicians stoke the fires of race hatred while being careful never to get dirt (or blood) on their own hands, recognize a gathering cloud when they see one.

    Failing to confront people like Congressman Wilson quickly and directly will only embolden those who are already carrying guns to Presidential appearances.

    But a more important question occurs.

    How hard would it be for just one nationally recognized Republican to turn this process around by condemning it for what it is?

    September 22, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. Ramon

    After all the media covering "You Lie" stuff, I believe the Mr. Wilson outburst was planned base on a volcano racist buildup that he could not control. If he was so sincere when he gave his apology he would not continue to use “You Lie” to his advantages.

    September 22, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. felicia

    I really hope not you white people need to stop being so hateful it's not about you it's about america and President Obama is our President.

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

    Oh and this nut job knows this.............how? This is getting totally ridiculous and the Democrats better watch their step in over playing the race card.

    Obama LIED, how is that racist? Do only black people lie? Someone needs to explain how calling Obama out on his misrepresentations is RACIST.

    September 22, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. Randolph Carter, the elitist, narcissistic Obamabot

    "I guess we'll probably have folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside, intimidating people,"

    As long as they stay in the "countryside" they'll be safe. If they poke their white hoods into my old neighborhood, let's put it this way, I can't vouch for their safety. Stay out in the boonies where you belong, klan. Be afraid of the inner city. Be very afraid. Have a nice day!

    September 22, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  19. www.robmillerforcongress.com

    Of course Wilson's ridiculous outburst was calculated!

    Wilson is a tool of the sleazy Republican leadersihp that has nothing better to offer than phony controversies.

    My response was to start contributing to the campaign of Rob Miller, Joe "The Heckler" Wilson's 2010 challenger.

    Rob Miller is a former marine and Iraq War veteran, and owns a small business in South Carolina.

    September 22, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. FW

    Anti healthcare and anti liberal policies are not racist but the allegations that President Obama is a:

    Terrorist
    Non-Christian
    Undercover Muslim
    Non-Citizen
    Illegitimate President
    Wants "Death Panels"

    seem to be all racially motivated. How else can you explain these rumors? If he was a white American none of these elements would have ever been considered. No one would have thought that he was a non-citizen if he looked like "the rest of us". I thought racism was the flaw of a dying generation, but I am now convinced that it is still a mainstream problem with deep roots.

    September 22, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. Ren from Baltimore

    This is true not only in the Deep South, but also up here on the Mason-Dixon line as well. The Confederate flag flies on. Klan matters are overheard at drugstores and in bars. "Lawn jockeys" are easy to find on the farms north Baltimore. And so is all fo the attendant talk and blather.

    I agree with Rep Johnson: Rep Wilson spoke exactly to these misguided, out-of-date fellas. They "want the country back"-from whom? From "those people."

    They would rather give it up entirely to insurance companies and banks. Certainly, they will protect all of us when the time comes. Right?

    September 22, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. Tina

    It's nice to see a Republican finally sticking his neck out against what has so obvioulsy been going on. Just because it's not spoken of or some don't see it, doesn't mean that racism is no longer a problem in our society. In fact, ignoring racial differences and hiding from the huge racial divide in this country has only served to fester the underlying racism that still exists.

    September 22, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. AJ

    Rep. Hank Johnson is a complete moron. I am a lifelong democrat and do believe that Wilson's outburst was planned and not just a spontaneous rant, but I don't believe there is a racist under every bush. It was planned to get the right wing ya-hoo's all riled up and it served it's purpose. Those that insist on scraeming "racism" at every possible opportunity make themselves and the party look silly.

    September 22, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. Tom L

    Mr. Johnson,

    Very depressing to see a man such as you make it as a Congressman and yet convey a message of hate and despair. Of course there is racism today and there always will be. However, the opposition of healthcare reform stems from an abhorance to the government and their ability to do anything well. The government is just too big to be able to handle this enormous undertaking, not to mention the lack of Constitutional authority.
    The more we focus on the fringe, racists the more credibility we give to them. An overwhelming majority of our country are law abiding, contributing members of society. It hurts deeply when you say that opposition to healthcare is akin to being in the KKK.
    We need to move forward and embrace the progress we have made. Sure, 10% said they would never vote for a black man. However, said another way, 90% would! Is that not incredible improvement and growth from where we were just 25 years ago?

    September 22, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. John

    We don't need Yellers in Congress. Congress has a decorum. It is a Gathering of Civilized People. There is a Proper Procedure to Protest in Congress, not by Yelling. It is not Allowed to Yell in Congress.

    In some Countries like S. Korea – Congressmen Grapple; India – Congressmen Fist Fight; In another third world Country – A Congressman Peed on the Desk of the Chairperson.

    BUT we will not allow the US Congress to become a Collection of Idiots like Joe Wilson. :|

    September 22, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
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