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. Expat American

    resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan...
    Republicans already hung effigies at Palin rallies during the campaign; business as usual in as far as the connection between the KKK and the GOP.

    September 22, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. Dylan from MN

    Anger, fear and ignorance will only leave you paralysed. Get off of your racist horse and stand for something that's real.

    September 22, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  3. We Won Get Over It

    I really truly believe that the republicans are trying to incite to riot. They know there is no way they are going to WIN any election legimately. That is why they are starting all this disruption and whining and spewing. That is why Fox News has an agenda to try to discredit any and all of the Obama administration.

    Any sane person, who looked at and lived thru bush's corrupt and crooked administration that can truefully say that he did not ruin this country should be sent immediately to one of cheney's undisclosed locations and kept there till they regain their senses.

    September 22, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. mary

    Why is Hank Johnson talking? Isn't it obvious from the Sept 12 march on DC what some people think about Obama? And we have sent our finest men and women to die abroad because we think we have something better to offer? They may be laughing at us.

    What is interesting is that the Republicans don't see why Wilson should be censured, but they were quick to call for Clinton's impeachment because he denigrated the office he held. Well, there you have it: different strokes for different folks.

    September 22, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  5. Sam Sixpack

    It is racist to assume people of one race who happen to disagree with you are racists.

    September 22, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. Obama 2.0

    He is a fool and will soon be departed form SC public service!

    September 22, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  7. Susan B Anthony

    Wilson made a mistake of inappropriate behavior, but I'm sure he would have made the same blunder no matter what color Obama is. All this talk of racism should be dropped. We've come too far as a country. I believe the far majority of all people will always have "prejudices" against all manner of issues, but racism continues only in the minds of a very few. Let's not bring it into the lives and future of our children.

    September 22, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. jrzshor

    can we give georgia to some other country?

    September 22, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  9. Atlanta Republican

    You people are so screwed up. Anything that doesn't meet your approval is racist. Let me tell you, Hank Johnson is one of the biggest Racist I have ever seen. And he LIES! Hows that?

    September 22, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  10. Guy

    Well duh... why else would there have been a camera ready to document his outburst. He was playing to his racist SC voters who have since rewarded him with money to run in his next election. His constituents most likely hate the fact that congress has to listen to that black man at the podium. God help us... facism is on it's way.

    September 22, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |

    why is it the Democrates can make Racist comments and think its alright and when a Republican disagrees with the Obama its racism. What a joke t Worldhe Democrates are. They act as Dictators, Hitler and Stalin all in one. I think the Democrtaes are the RACIST OF THE WORLD.

    The Democrates are why we are where we are at, DEPRESSION>

    September 22, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "It is racist to assume people of one race who happen to disagree with you are racists."

    It is racist to ignore the point that is really being made in order to set up a straw man against which to claim reverse racism.

    September 22, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  13. michael

    To all Glenn Beck haters, he's a libertarian, not a republican. He said as many things about Bush as he does about this president. He speaks the truth and does his research to back it. he single handedly got van Jones out of Obama's cabinet by exposing this racist and loon out of the white house. Look up libertarian and you will see what the tea party demonstration stand for, truth, justice and liberty for all.

    September 22, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Of course it was.

    September 22, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  15. Eliminate CNN

    Your left leaning days are numbered CNN. And as for your pathetic excuse for editors who delete all comments in opposition to Obama, Pelosi and criminal Reid, too bad you couldn't get a real job. Hopeless losers!

    September 22, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  16. Mike

    Oh give me a break already.
    CNN needs to get over "racism." The constant "racism" cry is proof positive that Obamacare, and Obama's other policies, are simply indefensible. Shouting "racism" is like shouting "hitler", it's a way to tar and feather your opponent. Pull out the racist card and you have just admitted you have no real argument.

    September 22, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  17. msabena

    Guess What? having an African American man in the white house does not wash away centuries of racial hatred. this country is so steeped in animosity and blood it will take generations to get clean. i always believed that america would have to be on the brink of oblivion for a Black man to rise to the white house – and i was absolutely right. all i can say is God Bless him – he knows in his heart what he has to deal with. he can bring intelligence, honesty, charisma and strength but he knows what he has to deal with - this is america. we condemn genocide everywhere else but in our backyard. how many black, red, yellow and, yes, white ghosts cry out from paved over roads and melancholy trees. read our history. it doens't take much to start the race machine – it never stopped.

    September 22, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  18. CNN =

    We Won Get Over It,

    Wow, you are still as angry as ever aren't you? Too bad your life is so miserable. Why aren't you passing any significant health care bill? I thought you had all of Congress and the White House? Why is it that Obama's approval fell faster than any previous President in U.S. History? Is it because America is having buyer's remorse in less than a year after Obama took office. The whole world is now saying "no" to Obama and what is he doing about it? He is giving in and bowing to their every demand. Yeah, Obama is a great President. (sarcasm) Obama and this administration will go down as the most corrupt, inexperienced, and inept administration in U.S. history. Hopefully he won't destroy what America stands for before he is booted out.

    September 22, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  19. Jon

    OF COURSE IT WAS carefully calculated.

    There is NO possible way a photographer could have caught that image of Joe Wilson shouting 2 words, which takes a total of one second.

    By the time ANYONE would have heard and registered what Wilson was doing, the moment would have passed and the camera would not have been able to catch that shot. I should know, I am a photojournalist.

    September 22, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  20. Blankman

    Its so funny that Dems are mad at him for yelling out "YOU LIE" about a health plan that the president KNOWS DOESN'T WORK, but yet sits there and tries to make us all believe that it does... I have nothing but respect for Joe Wilson.

    Yes maybe the timing was off but the fact that he stood up for something and made a point about something shows that at least somebody in Washington knows what is really going on. I hate all of our government system. Its all about corruption and who you know. Nobody cares about the middle class workers anymore or the 6.5+Million Americans out of jobs... But hey... all 500+ congress men are employed, rich and corrupt. But hey who's counting

    September 22, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  21. 30m-PA-former Dem

    Here we go again. The Dems love playing the race card!

    September 22, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  22. Ted

    Part racial, part political, part theatrical.

    Wilson's outburst was planned and staged as so much in politics is. The hope was to enrage an easily fooled public, and they succeeded.

    September 22, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  23. R in Maine

    As Obama said on TV, he was black before he was elected. No wonder that those fear-mongering racists are so scared of him.

    September 22, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  24. RandyW

    Rep. Johnson and President Carter have both said that there is a fringe group in this heated oppostition to anything Obama that is racist. They have NOT said all oppositions is racist.

    Both these men were raised in the Deep South and they know racisim when they see it from 'good old boys' and their racist followers. It is not the race card as many claim that these two men are playing.

    I live in a North Texas town that is heavy Republican, just since the current hate speech coming out of the FOX talking heads, and Rush, Confederate flags are flyin high onec again – this is racism. Not all, just the ones expressing themselves in well known racist terms.

    September 22, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  25. Mario

    No, he is just a blundering man benefiting from a mistake. A man like this is not capable of "careful calculation".

    September 22, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
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