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. Barbara - a Canadian Perspective

    Of course this outburst was planned. All one needs to do is to review the picture taken at the time (see article down further). Both gentlemen flanking Mr. Wilson, show no reaction of surprise at the shout out.... rather they almost look as though they are awaiting reaction. If you look at the two gentlemen directly in front of Mr. Wilson, you see no head turning, no element of shock at it. It seems therefore, that this was not only staged, but advertised ahead of time.

    September 22, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  2. vick

    Soon Wilson will be out of Office

    September 22, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  3. mmike

    That is a pretty irresponsible piece of journalism.

    September 22, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  4. some guy in New Hampshire

    Wilson was factually wrong in saying that Obama lied about his health plan not covering illegal immigrants. Obama hadn't made any details of his plan available at that point. Wilson was talking about the House Democrats' health bill, not something Obama had authored. Wilson was factually wrong but seems proud of himself nonetheless. That's not a right-wing or Republican thing, it's just the mark of a shallow human being.

    September 22, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  5. ThePointedTruth

    I am sick of the racism argument. Most conspiracy theories are dispelled and this one is no exception. Show me evidence of a resurgence of the kkk.

    September 22, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  6. Blue

    Joe Wilson is racial. Everything that he says makes it more so. I'm from the south and I am ashamed of our behavior, and we are going to have to change if we survive.

    September 22, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  7. grey fox

    I think we're seeing a lot of unspontaneous outbursts; the town hall 'protests', Mr. Wilson's crude outburst; all of these and more are calculated to appeal to the worst instincts and to besmirch the Obama presidency. All in all, an ugly time for ugly behavior in America. Not anything to be proud of right now, I'm afraid. The far right has done its calculations, and it is pretty certain that just doing these kinds of ad hominem attacks will finally drag down a promising time in our political history, and return us to the dark ages of fear and loathing from the previous years. Jim Crow is alive and well.

    September 22, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  8. VGal

    FINALLY – an elected politician who tells the truth – even if it won't get him re-elected!!

    September 22, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  9. Joshua College Station Texas

    Johnson is right. He may sound alarmist, but his evaluation is actually rather balanced. Violent expressions of deep-seated racism remain rare, but may increase because folks who hold onto them are being given license and validation by exhibitionist figures of authority such as Wilson.

    September 22, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  10. PALIN/BACHMANN 2012!!!

    The libs make a big deal that Joe Wilson tried to keep the Confederate flag flying over the South Carolina statehouse. He's just proud of his state's history.

    September 22, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  11. elle

    "There are no accidents in politics."–Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    September 22, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  12. Mark

    The fact that the southern Republican power base grew out of their opposition to desegregation and equal rights and their alignment for terrorist groups like the KKK is a fact on the histroy books. Jessee Helms used race in the late 80's to win an election when he was falling behind in the polls, Karl Rove and GW used it to win in the Primary in South Carolina over McCain, and I really doubt the good 'ol boys wouldn't resort to the same tactics to win at any cost.

    September 22, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  13. mytabloids

    OF COURSE it was "calculated!" How can anyone think otherwise?

    You think anything a professional politician does is NOT calculated?

    Wilson figured it would solidify his credit with his racist base in SC and that's exactly what it's done.

    This isn't rocket science folks. Politicians, and their consultant-enablers spend their careers looking for opportunities like this. Wilson was a nobody before this. Now he's a hero to his hateful constituency.

    September 22, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  14. Tom

    We have now reached the point where the idiots outnumber the quality members of both the Senate and Congress – regardless of party – how about some pols that believe in America?

    September 22, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  15. Wise Latina

    Johnson is an idiot, and his attempt to make this yet another Carter-like racist moment is outrageous and racist in itself. He must resign immediately. Go now, and never be heard of again!

    September 22, 2009 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  16. Felicia

    Yes most of the opposition is from racists. Referring to the President and his family as "apes", "monkeys", "nappy", etc. and calling for his assassination is not disagreeing with his "policies". If I disagree with a white person I don't call them "white trash" or "cracker" and I don't threaten to kill them or wish them harm.

    When did Reagan, Bush, Clinton, or Bush have people showing up to their speaking engagements carrying guns?

    No one had heard of South Carolina's politcal leaders (Sanford, Graham, Demint, Wilson) until they started "grandstanding" against this black president. They should be embarrassed to have the spotlight on the state for which they have done "nothing" except fly the Confederate flag!

    Extremists want to take America back to Jim Crow times. Since I believe in the Right to Bare Arms; this black South Carolinian will be purchasing gun. Yes

    September 22, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  17. Art in Las Vegas

    For all those people that think Oamba lied and Wilson is a hero, I direct your attention to HR 3200, section 246, SEC. 246. NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS.
    Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

    September 22, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  18. Mark

    Oh my god we are going to cry racism now every time someone disagrees with Obama.

    September 22, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  19. Mike

    I don't see how this could not have been calculated political theater on Wilson's part. There just HAPPENED to be a Getty photographer snapping a pic of him at the exact moment he spontaneously yelled at the President?

    September 22, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  20. jeb

    It appears that Johnson is correct in stating that Wilson's rude outburst was calculated to attract those on the fringe of our society who have forgotten their manners or have been brainwashed by Fox and others. Pres. Bush proved himself to be a liar, along with VP Cheney, but did you hear anyone being rude enough to yell out insulting comments during his "speeches"? The people who approve of Wilson's childish behavior need stop for a moment to remember that their parents and teachers taught them that good citizens show respect to one another and to the leaders of our country. Most people in the US (I hope) still have the sense and courtesy to listen politely no matter if they agree or disagree with what is being said by their President. Intelligent people debate intelligently and respectfully. Unfortunately, it seems that Wilson is not one of these people.

    September 22, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  21. mary

    The outburst was rude and loutish, and I also believe it was calculated.

    September 22, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  22. Canadian Guy

    Americans are no more smarter and no less stupider than the rest of the world. Sarah Palin plays millions. O'Reilly. Fox. The republicans. Wilson's taking the same route. So blatantly obvious. Wake up and smell the coffee Americans! Definitely a calculated move. But who dares call him out? Took so long for 1 man to have the courage.

    September 22, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  23. Jared

    Can we let this go? Please focus on fixing out economy, rather than trying to make the Democratic party look like a bunch of saints trying to save humanity, and making the GOP look like a bunch of racist rednecks. JUST DO YOUR JOB AND SHUT IT!!!!

    September 22, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  24. Brad

    There is no doubt in my mind that Joe Wilson's statement was both caluculated and racially motivated.

    September 22, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  25. Dewey

    When I couldn't get my dog to lay down on command, I yelled "You Lie!"

    The dog told me I was being racist.

    September 22, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
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