September 22nd, 2009
07:15 PM ET
14 years ago

Georgia congressman: Wilson's outburst 'carefully calculated'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Jamie

    Of course he staged his "outburst". He needs the money, the right is trying to make their base feel completely alienated from the mainstream, and since many of them are on conspiracy freaks anyway....

    September 23, 2009 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  2. louise

    You can disagree, but Repubs have shown so much disrespect to the President on every issue. Typical mean-spirted, bigoted attitudes are shameless, more now than ever. Understandably so if you listen to Rush, Hannity and Beck. They don't run our country and people need to start listening to someone with educated, meaningful solutions.

    September 23, 2009 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  3. Matt Ward

    This is ridiculous. Someone speaking their mind in about something they feel passionate about is not an act of racism. If a black man did that about Bush when he was in office would they have called it race motivated? Not likely....

    September 23, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  4. Lynne in CA

    Anyone who doesn't think racism still exists has their head in the sand. Whether or not Wilson's kindergarten liar, liar pants on fire outburst can be considered racially motivated is a moot point.

    There are most definately fringe elements (think Aryan Brotherhood) that still exist today whose sole motivation is hatred based on race. These people are dangerous, armed domestic terrorists and I believe the question should be "when" not "if" there will again be deadly, race motivated violence.

    Homeland Security had it right when they released their report on the wacko religious right wingnuts a few months ago. Racists go against everything God stands for...a bunch of wacko sick puppies.

    September 23, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  5. usualone

    The bigots don't really want to admit it to themselves and use every excuse to justify their actions. I just hope they are in the minority - and only wish the President were right that the segment were small. However, it only takes one person to act irrationally being encouraged by the hatred that is being demonstrated. Americans forget quickly; however, some of us remember how disliked President Kennedy was at the time of his administration. He went to Texas to smooth over things there; and we who were alive then remember what happened there. That was one time too much in a lifetime. Those who attack the President's actions in the way they do these days (not in a civil manner) certainly stir up those who cannot control their own actions.

    September 23, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  6. Devin

    How irritating, apparently every negative feeling about Obama's policies is because I'm racist?! Ludicrous! It is not those on the right who are avoiding political discourse on the laws being proposed in Congress, it is the left. Why isn't the media calling out the Democrats for ducking the issues?

    September 23, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  7. Richard

    Of course it was calculated. Calling the Commander in chief a liar before the assembled Congress and the world, plays well in redneck SC, and country club SC, in fact in plays well among most of this Congressmen's constituency. He will raise millions of dollars, win his election and will see an astonishing rise in stature among SC Republicans in general and Republicans everywhere. It's merely the continuation of the "Southern strategy", the only strategy sadly the party of Lincoln, Snowe, Dirksen, Javitis, and ironically Earl Warren has left. It appeals to our meanest and lowest common denominator, it has won elections before, and God help us it will again. Sign me a Georgia democrat, I know my folks well.

    September 23, 2009 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  8. Bob

    Amazed by the misunderstanding displayed in many of these posts – largely due to a result of not listening or reading carefully.

    It's not the fact that they disagree with the President it is in the WAY they SHOW their disagreement.

    Also, I'm getting weary of the childish claim that it is OK because they did it to Bush.

    I voted for Bush and did not approve of how he was treated.

    I voted for Obama and likewise do not approve of how he is being treated.

    Now, that is really "fair and balanced"

    September 23, 2009 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  9. Voice of Reason

    Do you people really believe your own rhetoric? Do you think about what you wwrite or do you just parrot the party line?

    Intelligent people (Democrats & Republicans) called Nixon a liar, Carter inept, GHWBush out of touch and Clinton a philanderer. We honored the Office even when the person occupying it was dishonorable. Yet when Junior Bush made reasoned decisions based on best intelligence of the moment, with the backing of the overwhelming majority of Americans, and the Army screwed it up, the Demoncrats booed POTUS in Congress.

    Now a seasoned Congressman speaks a truth about an empty suit occupying the Office, a comment verified by the White House 4 days later. The demoncrats played the race cards because they didn't know what else to do.

    He is being villified with character assassination cause they can't stand it that he was right.

    September 23, 2009 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  10. Eric

    As a minority whose earliest memories include hearing racist comments yelled at his father for no reason whatsoever...this argument by Johnson is plain ridiculous.
    It is cowardice and manipulation to pull the "race card" when the merits of a position (such as President Obama's on health care) just don't withstand scrutiny. And when we're talking about a subject as important as our healthcare...doesn't it deserve the most rigorous scrutiny we can provide–no matter the color of the skin of its greatest advocate?

    September 23, 2009 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  11. Lee

    The more I read and listen to what democrats say, the more convinced I become that Aliens did crash-land in New Mexico back in 1947. And have been here ever since. How else can you explain democrats?

    September 23, 2009 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  12. Nea

    Im not saying because J. Wilson said you lie have anything to do with racism but id really do feel that there are people out there that donot like this President just because he is a black man and they cannot stand the fact that he is in the white house. I feel they believe that this President donot deserve to be President because of the color of his skin. But im so proud that we have others that are not racist and they just disagrees with this President views, then there are those who supports him wholeheartely. Thats ok if you disagree with this president at least if you do as long as you are doing it without racism and hatred in your heart ,some of us didnot agree with Former President G. Bush on everything either and racism had nothing to do with it.

    September 23, 2009 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  13. steve

    Defending your position about healthcare reform makes you a concerned American and defending an idiot that disrespects the President of the United States dosen't necessarily make you a racist.
    An Unpatriotic Classless Hateful Southern Clown Supporter it does make you.
    wanting to defended him says it all.

    September 23, 2009 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  14. Ken Williams

    Personally I think this line of thought is ridiculous. People shouldn't be afraid to criticize the President because of the race. It seems the liberals refuse to let this issue die even though the President wants it too. Think about it. Does the President want the issue of race to come up every time a disagreement on policy comes up and Polar Bears against Palin; you have to be the biggest snob I've seen on the blogging scene.

    September 23, 2009 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
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