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. Datbury

    As a black man, I don't care about the resurgence of the KKK. I am aware of my rights as a private citizen. I am more concerned with the brand of politics that is being played in Washington. Its is very dangerous and immature. I wish we had more people in DC who care more about the direction of this country and less about the politics of the moment. Even if you don't agree with Obama, at least he is trying to have honest talks. I hate even the dems who are trying to make him play politics. What ever happened to integrity?

    September 22, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  2. Jenny in CA

    I believe it was planned. Look at the picture of the guys around him....no one seem suprised. Odd to me that everyone around him kept their eyes on Obama....they wanted to see his reaction.

    Think about it...SNL got it right!

    September 22, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  3. smiff

    Having lived my entire meager existance in Georgia I can tell you this guy is as sincere as he is dim. Its a real phobia among his crowd that plays into government support programs. If my victimhood is victimhoody enough the programs stay in place. If not then Im like any other American and not special enough for preferential treatment. Its been this way all around me for forty plus years. You can take the victims outta their situation but you can never elevate them beyond the convenience of being special!

    September 22, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  4. Of course

    Amen! I wish the media would stop denying the obvious. President Obama has to sugar coat it so that he can stay focused on his agenda. God forbid he stated the obvious. However, MANY of the signs, comments, and just plain hatred are based on pure unadulterated racism. The tea parties look like KKK rallies. The anger reminds me of the reaction to children integrating schools. These folks were opposed to their own best interests with other democratic presidents but they never questioned their legitimacy, prevented their children from hearing their message to stay and do well in school or insisted the sky is purple if he said it was blue. The death threats are 400+ times more than for any other president. So stop denying the obvious. It's getting tired.

    September 22, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  5. Yankee Doodle

    Joe Wilson, Strom Thurmond, John C. Calhoun–all brought to you by the great state of South Carolina.

    First to secede from the Union, first to fire on the federal govt. Wouldn't bother me a bit if SC seceded again, and took the rest of the Deep South with it.

    September 22, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  6. hahaha

    The only "carefully calculated" statement came from Hank Johnson himself. I wonder how many campaign contributions from anti-discrimination groups will come knocking at his door...

    September 22, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  7. the Film Professor

    I am a white constituent of Hank Johnson's; I have proudly voted for him in two elections, and I think his comments are 100% accurate.

    September 22, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  8. KC

    Americans do not have to agree with the president, but cannot do it in a threatening or violent way. I disagreed with Bush on...just about everything, but I didn't tell people to "pray for his death" or any other nuts stuff like that. There will always be dissent, but threats are unacceptable!

    September 22, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  9. Liberal

    Anyone who says that if you disagree with a person makes you a racist, is trying to hide something. Go ahead and disagree, but do so on the substance of the issue. Most of these clowns who claim to disagree, do not even understand the issue. That is why it is widely believed and articulated, that these folks are racist. They do not want a black man to be their boss, their leader, and they cannot stand it. I sit back and revel at the stupidity of Boss Limberger cheese and no more advertisers Glen Becker head, and laugh a hearty laugh every day. They are so mad, I just wait for them to blow a gasket and croak from their hatred. I smile and look at my picture of the president, and know that we have him for four years and there is NOT A THING they can do about it!!!!!

    September 22, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  10. Patriot

    Of course Wilson's outburst was calculated, thereby ensuring that the media would talk about it non-stop instead of talking about what the President had to say about healthcare reform–just as we are doing now.

    September 22, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  11. JB in VA

    "Shame on You, Barack Obama."
    – Hillary Rodham Clinton

    September 22, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  12. Bob in Pa

    You idiots !
    An what Senator is a former proud member of the KKK?
    Democrats have been the party of segregation and racist politics for ever. Don't be fooled.

    September 22, 2009 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  13. roym

    Joe Wilson "attacked the dignity" of the Office of the President of the United States? Well, maybe he did. But every time the President of the United States goes on television and speaks about his health care, he attacks the dignity of every thinking US citizen. The man stands up there and speaks in eloquent terms of part of the proposed legislation that is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. The truth is... HE LIES! Check the facts.

    This isn't about health care, this is about bringing America to her knees...it's about POWER. Wake up and listen!

    September 22, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  14. G28

    Yeah planned....hmmm once he heard President Obama lie he briefly planned a response "you lie!"

    September 22, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  15. John H

    Libs just try to throw out the race card on anything to stifle debate and turn away from the real issues at hand. A lot of Obama's pics for his cabinet are questionable and borderline racist.

    September 22, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  16. jimbo

    people, people, people. It is about truth, not skin color. all you people that play the race card just because something you don't like or agree are just looking for excuses. the poster that mentioned Colin Powell, Condeleeza Rice, etc. they did pretty good, didn't they? do you really think they did not encounter racism somewhere along the line? They succeeded in spite of it and that my friend is the best arguement against it. Someone seeing boy after you lie is really stretching it and a sign of someone looking to be provoked

    September 22, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  17. JS007

    I'm not sure whether he calculated it or not, but it doesn't really matter. After "apologizing" he went on to basically say that he only apologized because his leadership forced him. He also happens to be one of the few politicians who tried to keep the Confederate flag on the SC capitol building. Joe Wilson is a racist and so are the people who donated over $2M to his campaign since his shameful outburst. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck...

    September 22, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  18. The truth

    I sure wish people would use a little critical thinking and analysis regarding racism. No one is saying that everyone opposed to President Obama is racists. That would be an exaggeration. However, you are stuck in denial if you cannot admit that many of the gun toting, confederate flag waving, "taking my country back", angry people (overwhelmingly white and over 50) are racists. Lastly, no one has to define to a southerner, over the age of 40 a racists.

    September 22, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  19. Thaddeus Stevens

    Joe Wilson, Strom Thurmond, Preston Brooks, and John C. Calhoun: All from the great state of South Carolina. First to secede from the Union, first to fire on the federal govt.

    I wouldn't care if SC seceded again, and took the rest of the Deep South with it.

    September 22, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  20. Tom in Delaware

    Another wacked out narrative from the Looney Left.....keep pushin' the racism because all your ideas are disasters.

    September 22, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  21. Richie

    I agree with Rep. Johnson. But, I think we can have compassion for the white people that are so afraid. Why do those who do not see racism here insist on claiming that the theory is that disagreement with the administration is seen as racist? It is not. What is seen as racist is the violent and rude nasty outbursts. It started during the Palin/McCain campaign when hateful things were shouted and not objected to by the candidates. The situation is very dangerous.

    September 22, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  22. Ray

    Ah yes – the vast right wing conspiracy!! The only racist in this story is Hank Johnson. The Democratic Socilaist party want to make all of us slaves.

    September 22, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  23. GOPer

    Yes, this was planned and it was a disgrace to his office and our country. What A Punk.

    September 22, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  24. Pfft

    I'm so tired of everything being called racist.

    September 22, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  25. Tired

    Unfortunately, there is an element of truth in the racism charge. There are parts of this country where racism has not been laid to rest. I think most of us have risen beyond it but..... Mr. Wilson showed a marked lack of civility, respect and an inability to handle himself appropriately in the Congressional setting. Of course he is allowed to disagree but there is always a time and place. What a thing to teach our children. When one of his kids talks back to a teacher or another adult with anger and distain we will know where he learned it. I don't think most of us mind the disagreement. What we mind is the atmosphere of hate and anger that seems to accompany the dissenters. I cannot recall this kind of behavior in my 65 years. I've seen quite a bit but not this vitrollic, nastiness that we are currently seeing. That is why we suspect racial undertones...it is so much nastier than the usual political rhetoric. Some older friends tell me FDR received some of the same type attacks. But I do not know where I would be if he had not introduced Social Security.

    September 22, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
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