Hey, @CongJoeWilson: Next Time, Just Don’t Forget To Say “Boy.”


After disrespectfully yelling out “You lie!” to the President of the United States, in the middle of Obama’s address to Congress last night, Republican South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, above, quickly received the contempt of the body’s fellow members, on both sides of the aisle. (“Stand with me against liberal attacks: Today I need your help more than ever before,” he urged from his home page on Twitter, shamelessly plugging for money.)

Wilson may actually do all right in that department because, according to TwitterCounter.com, as of today, he also has more than 6,000 new followers on the popular social networking site.

Wilson had 2,311 followers on September 9th. As I’m writing this, TwitterCounter hasn’t registered today’s new followers. However, clicking on Wilson’s Twitter profile shows, as of 7:40 pm ET today, 8,631 followers.

That’s not the most interesting observation you’re likely to read, however, about the Congressman’s lack of restraint. No, that would be Drs. Stephen Maynard Caliendo’s and Charlton McIlwain’s essay, “The Racial Context for Joe Wilson’s Outburst,” excerpted below:

Beyond Wilson’s callous disdain for the office of President, it is important to understand the racial connotations involved, and the climate that gave rise to them.

image5300230xWe do not assert that Joe Wilson is a bigot; his personal racial attitudes are, perhaps ironically, beyond the scope of this incident. Rather, the consistent branding of President Obama as “other” by his opponents has created a context within which it is perceived that Obama need not be treated as other presidents have been treated. The creation of that “otherness,” while possibly motivated by racial animosity, is certainly rendered more effective as a result of deeply held negative predispositions about African Americans.

For at least two years, his political opponents – including Democratic opponents during the primary – have attempted to portray Barack Obama as “not one of us.” He has been, at various times, referred to as communist/socialist/Marxist, elitist, corrupt, a terrorist sympathizer, foreign-born, a thug, fascist and even racist. In short, he is everything that we believe America is not. He is not “one of us.” He is “other.”

It is no surprise, then, that some parents felt it dangerous to let this stranger talk to their children on Tuesday, and it is no surprise that at least one member of Congress believed that it was appropriate to hurl an insult at him during a formal address. Keeping in mind that there is a small but vocal group of Americans and conservative leaders who continue to perpetuate the story that Obama is not a legitimate president because of his birth status, perhaps we should not be surprised that this president, then, does not command even the most minimal level of respect from some of his elected political opponents.

By and large, Whites in America go out of their way to excuse such behavior as being impolite or unfortunate, but not at all related to race. If one believes that the threshold of what is to be considered to be “racist” is that an epithet must be hurled (e.g., if Wilson would have yelled, “You lying nigger!”[Ed’s note: Orif he’d  followed my headline—HA), it is comfortable to believe that in a “post-racial” nation, such behavior is divorced from the nation’s rich history of oppression and White supremacy.

[Insert the sound of an arrow hitting a target, followed by another arrow hitting the first one and smashing it to splinters, here.]

Caliendo’s and McIlwain are co-authors of the upcoming Race Appeal: The Prevalence, Purposes, and Political Implications of Racial Discourse in U.S. Electoral Politics (Temple University Press 2010) and co-editors of the also-soon-to-be-released Routledge Companion to Race & Ethnicity. These two scientists, out of their generosity, have complimented the writing I do here, on MEDIA ASSASSIN, though, obviously, that has zilch to do with why they deserve a big-up. Check out their Race Project, and follow their Project on Race in Political Communication on Twitter @PRPC, in order to make maximum sense out of future South Carolinian smack.



#1 Erik Petursson on 09.11.09 at 1:41 am

The above is by far the very best disection of the event in question, that I have seen or heard so far. Frankly I am not surprised. When I discovered yor site, I was taken back by the candid manner you were able to get to the core of the matter at hand. I literally went through every blog, blogroll, categories and archives, and read it all.

I have always been amazed to read letters to the editor of whatever magazine I am reading, that stetes, – and I know you have seen them, – “I have been a subscriber to your magazine for 30 years, but in your last issue you did something or said something that I completely disagree with. I am therefore canceling my subscription..blah blah” If no one ever steps over my edge, what ever it is, how will I ever know where my edge is?

I do not always agree with you, but find that I agree with most of your arguments. It tells me that, – this guy stays somewhere close to my edge. and I will therefore support and respect him, – because of it, not in spite of it. But further, – and even more important, – on a number of occasions, you have brought up a point that escaped me when an issue entered my personal space, and made me reflect, on how could I not have seen that! Those times have added to my awareness, and deeper understanding of the world around me. For that, – I thank you.

Frankly, I could not wait to read your perspective on the above event, and as expected, you did not disappoint.
Much respect.

#2 df on 09.11.09 at 1:40 pm

I seen things like this before concerning a black vice president of a company who was holding a meeting and a white male manager under him made a racial comment about blacks at the meeting. They have the nerve to say we have a chip on our shoulder which they put there.

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