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. joshdani

    How could Joe Wilson contain himself while George Bush continued to lie to the American public about WMD and the reason we sent our sons and daughters to die in a desert in the middle east but couldnt help himself when this president was speaking about health care ..it was racist and disrespectful and world is witnessing the ugliness of America which prided itself at onetime the leader of the free world and a symbol of dignity and equality..God help us

    September 22, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  2. Steve B (California)

    Hank Johnson you are just awesome!

    The more you talk about race and blame the Republicans the further you slip in to the mud. Foolish man you are.

    September 22, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  3. Gkramer

    This guy is an idiot. A liar was called a liar...nothing more.

    September 22, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  4. Jeff Miller

    I agree completely with Rep. Hank Johnson. I thought the exact same thing after seeing the way Wilson has acted since his "apology".

    I hope the voters of SC wise up and vote him out of office.

    September 22, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  5. Rick

    Typical Lib response, lash out with the racism claim when all else fails. I hope you realize it is this kind of stupidity that has set race relations back 50 years. Kind of ironic since Obama stated he was going to bring us all together. So far I se nothing but signs that he is tearing us apart. When the truth finaly emerges I think we will all see who the true racist is. Whites elected Obama how quickly we forget this and to call these same people racists because they disagree with a policy is ludicrous.

    September 22, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  6. CBR

    We are all allowing ourselves to be sidetracked by the media, politicians, and those who speak the loudest. Instead of using our energy to write these notes we could all be finding a way to get the USA back on track.

    All of this nonsense has occurred over and over again beginning with the our first president. Perhaps now is the time to move our conversation forward in a new and positive direction. We elected a president last November. We can respectfully disagree with him but we don't need to be combative. We all have the right and responsibility to put forth arguments for and against ideas. It should not be necessary to use derogatory adjectives to describe any president. We do not need to agree with him but we should respect the office.

    Let's all move forward.

    September 22, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  7. Daniel

    It can be construed as racist if a white president who brought the country into an ill advised war was buffeted from criticism by detractors being called unpatriotic and a black president is shown little to know respect as he tries to reform health care. so a white president can kill innocent human beings and anyone that criticizes him is against the country and a black president who is trying to help people with universal health care can not even address congress without members yelling out. the tea parties and rep. joe wilson are trying to motivate the ignorant and the uninformed by playing on emotions including racism. by doing so they continue to foster racism in this country and it is a disgrace.

    September 22, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  8. Rachel Thigpen

    Wilson's comment was very inappropriate. Everyone knew way before President Obama was elected that there was still racial tension in the U.S. He did not need to reinterate that subject, therefore putting us back a few steps. Obama has many issues to deal with and racism has to placed on the back burner. This country has to accept a black man holding the highest office in the land and move on. Now whether or not Wilson's comments were a hidden agenda, i do not know, but what I do think is that he did spark a fuse that shouldn't have been lit. We cannot let fear get in the way of the American dream, and as you can see Obama didn't either. He wasn't afraid to run, to win, or push the issues that will help this great country look the future in the eye with success.

    September 22, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  9. Jeff, Huntington Beach, CA

    Carl Rove is the master of this kind of politics and is directing the Rethuglican onslaught at every wicked, disgraceful turn it takes to the low road.

    What is amazing is the fact that so many people are so stupid and shallow, not seeing through the terror tactics of the right. Unfortunately, we will all get what they deserve right along with them. I wish they could find their own planet to live on where they could live in ignorant bliss.

    September 22, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  10. harold

    Its kinda like what Nixon used to call his southern strategy....And now guess what?..It worked. then ...but matters have changed a lot now..Its a different time.. More intellect ..maybe..But the poor souls the 50 million USA people without health care..do not vote , mostly live in the south..and have no time for town hall meetings..they just get by keeping a roof over their many kids all without health care..thanks to the uncaring, and non Jesus like attitude of you know what members of Congress.....

    September 22, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  11. Stephen A. Howell

    Democrats think by attacking conservatives as racist they can take attention off of Obama horrific agenda and the damage it is doing to the country, seniors, and middle income families. We aren't fooled and in the next election we will send them a big message all tied in a bow. Just keep it up because every time I hear this garbage I get alittle madder and become even more determined to get these liberals out of office. If you are a middle American every time you hear this garbage send a contribution to a Republican. And keep it up because these buggers are toast.

    September 22, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  12. Scott, Tucson

    Never mind the fact that Wilson was right in the first place.

    September 22, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  13. tamina

    I fully agree with Johnson that wilson is a racist, he meant to say :'
    you lie Boy! he is a disgrace to the senate and should be out of the office by tomorrow. then he would have more time to spend with with his insurance buddies.

    September 22, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  14. Tucson Dean

    Joe Wilson's outburst was purely politically motivated, but not particularly racist. Wilson went from an invisible rep to a media celebrity in two words flat, and raised millions in campaign funds in return for it. His actions were calculated and planned, and I look forward to seeing him go from congressman to private citizen in one election flat for his next act.

    September 22, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  15. Zion

    I don't agree that all of Obama's opponents are racists, but Wilson is a part of the group that denies he was ever a citizen of the US. The birthers are known for their disdain of anyone who is of color. In addition, Wilson has heard numerous people that he has vehemently disagreed with who just happened to be white and he never behaved that way. I guess I'm disturbed that so many people in this nation are trying to pretend like racism does not exist. It just shows that the more things change, the more things stay the same. God Bless.

    September 22, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  16. ike

    Right on!!! Of course this is racism. Anybody that doesnt agree is racist!!!

    September 22, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  17. rolf

    Terrorism will come form within no the oustide if the right continues with their motus operendi.

    September 22, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  18. dave

    Sometimes the truth hurts, I can't believe the crap I'm seeing here.
    Is google a bad word here?

    September 22, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  19. Ryan, Council Bluffs

    I believe it is the Democrats who have entertain(ed) legislators who are sheet wearing members of the Klan...so a little Byrd tells me. I don't think Wilson has the Chicago political machine behind him calculating every move and counter move.

    September 22, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  20. RDE

    Joe Wilson called Obama a lie right at the time that he was talking about illegal immigrants. He is a racist, disrespectful and full of stereotypes. Wake up America. Racism still exist and we are still afraid to admit it and talk about it. Joe Wilson has no respect for our President nor to the people of the great state of SC. South Carolinians please kick this guy out of office so that your state can continue growing and not continue to be associated with racism and small minded individuals like Joe Wilson. Joe needs to go live in Alaska and move in with Sarah Palin. While you are at it, take Bush, Cheney, Beck and Rush with you.

    September 22, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  21. Chick

    Sorry, guys. I'm just not seeing the racism there. Perhaps everyone criticizing Wilson is being a bit prejudiced themselves. After all, if Wilson had been from – oh, I don't know – New York, would everyone still be popping off about racism?

    Or do all white men from the South automatically get branded racist when they have an opinion that differs from a black man? South Carolina is, after all, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Could you all be stereotyping him? It's something to think about.

    Wilson's act was out of line, but he IS right on the issue of illegal immigration in this bill. It's a pretty low blow to call the opposition "racist" as a means to shut down their voice. I guess that's one unintended side-effect of having a black president. Something I should have thought about before I voted...for Obama.

    September 22, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  22. Chris

    Enough of the garbage.

    First of all, Dems and Libs are not calling every republican or person who disagrees with President Obama a racist. We are calling those who show up to tea parties and rallies with Curious George monkeys, watermelons, bananas, pictures of the president as a witch doctor, the Joker, Hitler, or any other disparaging matter that can be interpreted as racial stereotyping, those and those that support and encourage that behavior are the people we are calling racist, because that's what it is!

    PLEASE POST THIS!

    September 22, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  23. J.C. - Independent & Insured

    I don't think about race most of the time except when I received email intended for a white person, in which racism is certainly played big time against President Obama, who is actually 50% white.

    I don't think we can ever get rid of racism, but I agree with Rep. Johnson and Speaker Pelosi that politicians need to take responsibility for their words and actions.

    I did not vote for Obama, but Rep. Wilson and alike have to respect MY president. I was against the bailouts, but I fully support the self-sustaining Public Option, which will serve the Middle Class without adding a dime to our deficits. We shouldn't fall prey to private insurers doing us apart for their profit in this reform. Justices Roberts and Scalia cannot distinguish between an individual and a corporation. The People need to work together before we are swallowed alive by big corporations such as private insurers.

    September 22, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  24. Simmy

    He will never be ready for prime time....He's too busy pruning his tobacco farm.....

    September 22, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  25. nurse

    He just said what we were all thinking so calc'd or not , he spoke for the nation

    September 22, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
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