Mr. Wilson Yells at the President

Posted on 12. Sep, 2009 by in Uncategorized

He wouldn’t have shouted “You lie!” to a white president. Maybe. Maybe not. I suppose arguments could be made for both sides but on questionable racial slip-ups, I tend to swing by on the “Who gives a [beep]?” branch of the Negro family tree.


When it comes to race, this country runs the same tired plays, over. And over. And over again. L’Affair Wilson is no different.


monkeyThe Absolute A$$hole
Extremists bumrush the middle ground and face-off behind screams of, “He’s a racist!” on one side and “He’s not a racist!” on the other. Not for the humble nor those inclined to re-evaluate and refine their opinions upon receipt of new information.

The “I Gotcha!”
Declare the declaration that an occurrence may be or is racist to be racist. (See comments) While this move demonstrates the accuser’s unfamiliarity with the definition of racism, it confounds just enough to stifle push back.

The Apology
Always run this play twice. The first time is the offender’s mea culpa. The second is for the secular inquisition to gut him publicly from gullet to gizzard and stand, arms folded, chest puffed, upon the vagabond’s entrails. Braveheart soundtrack not necessary but could be a nice touch.

The cost to our society of such theater disturbs me.  Our inability to trust and empathize is exactly why we’re bowling alone.

I have no earthly idea–and neither does anyone else–why the congressman from South Carolina yelled “You lie!” to the president of the United States during a prime time television broadcast of a joint session of Congress. He seems to have realized his surroundings because according to reports, he looked sheepish after the speech and quickly left the chamber. He apologized shortly after.

Why is that not enough? Because we live in a country where uppity negroes like Barack Obama met untimely endings either at the end of a lynch rope or meet them now, as the human resources/diversity officer of a Fortune 500 company. That, and the racism throughout Obama’s campaign and after, evidenced by the monkey pictures above, is the subtext to some convictions that the gentleman from the south disrespected the office of the president only because of the black man who occupies it.

I overstand the impulse to connect the dots. But I also overstand that history is a tapestry as big and wide as the breadth of our country and that we are extraordinarily selective of the narrative strands that we covet. Too often we forget that history informs the present; it does not make it. We have other choices, here.

We can choose to take Wilson’s apology at face value. We can choose to extend to him the measure of kindness that he could not extend to the president. We can choose to see Wilson as a person and not a caricature of typical southern inhospitality. We can choose to trust. As a nation, we will not be the weaker for it.

Tags: , ,

2 Responses to “Mr. Wilson Yells at the President”

  1. Carl Winfield

    13. Sep, 2009

    You know, I was reading M. Dowd’s column today and thinking to myself, “Really?”

    I would love for casual racism to be the end-all-be-all for every crazy comment or misdeed but I’m not convinced that things are that simple. Especially for President Obama.

    The country is dealing with a real crisis right now but the one currently affecting the Right is even more dangerous. For the first time in decades they’re not in an ideological lockstep formation. You’ve got seniors who are paranoid about losing their Medicaid benefits, Second Amendment yahoos like the NRA canvasser who called me last week to inform me that President Obama is hiking the cost of ammo by 500% thus endangering my right to own and operate a semi-automatic weapon but couldn’t tell me why and folks who have been so sandbagged by changes in the country’s economic gyrations over the last decade that they’re under the impression that they’ve got nothing except mistrust.

    I’m not saying that there aren’t folks who see BHO as a simian. I am saying that, folks have a tendency to lash out at anyone when they’re scared. Even the guy holding the only lifeline is going to take some lumps.


  1. The Obama Presidency: A Political Tightrope | The Obama Presidency - September 19, 2009

    […] take, a comment, an angle. There’s been the questioning of Wilson’s racial motives (and reaction to the questioning), a bigger-picture take on the outburst, analysis of Wilson’s apology and […]