Why blame Joe Wilson? His home state is just South of civilized

Southern congressman a long way from gentleman
Margery Eagan
Sunday, September 13, 2009

Some facts you may not know about South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, who shouted “You lie!” at President Obama this week.

He has zero tolerance for illegal immigrant health care, including the exception brought to us by Ronald Reagan: emergency-room care. So if an illegal family arrives at a hospital in ambulances, near death after a car accident, in Wilson’s world, that’s their tough luck.

Wilson is a member of Sons of Confederate Veterans, which has some members who favor secession and defend slavery as benign.

Wilson served as an aide to the late segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, a champion of white supremacy who conducted the longest filibuster in Senate history against the 1957 civil-rights bill. When Thurmond’s biracial daughter came forward after Thurmond’s death, Wilson called her “a smear” on Thurmond and said she should’ve kept her identity quiet. It was later revealed that Thurmond, who impregnated the girl’s mother when she was a 16-year-old family maid, had a secret relationship with that daughter and supported her for decades.

Wilson apologized.

Wilson can’t stomach single-payer government health care. Yet he gets it himself, for life. So do his four sons and their families – all military men. Nonetheless, he has voted 11 times against health care for vets, a Newsweek reporter (himself an uninsured vet) revealed this week. And he voted to cut vets’ benefits, though not his own, to make room for President George W. Bush’s tax cuts. Wilson has also voted repeatedly to slash Veterans’ Administration funds.

The South Carolina factor:

Around here, we call left-of-center types moonbats.

Dingbats. Crackpots. Wing nuts. Just plain nuts. That seems to fit much of South Carolina. We’re the cradle of liberty. They’re the cradle of secession and, until 2000, flew the Confederate battle flag over their Statehouse.

South Carolina brought us slavery’s great apologist, Sen. John C. Calhoun. South Carolina congressman Preston S. Brooks, in a legendary 1856 attack beat Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner so viciously that Sumner couldn’t return to the Senate for three years.

This behavior continues. South Carolina’s junior senator, Jim DeMint, has urged his fellow GOP-ers to “break” Obama by frustrating any health-care reform. “If we’re able to stop Obama on this,” he said, “it will be his Waterloo.”

Meanwhile, on Friday a group of black newspaper publishers charged Wilson with racism and canceled a January conference in South Carolina. And numerous commentators have remarked on the unfortunate image of Wilson’s eruption: There’s Wilson, the unhinged white guy in a sea of white guys, attacking America’s first black president.

Wilson kept his office open yesterday to host constituents traveling to the 9/12 March on Washington. Maybe you saw them on TV, by the thousands, calling Obama-ites Nazis, insisting on Obama’s Kenyan birth, waving signs such as “The Audacity of Dope.” Yesterday, Washington Post columnist Colbert King told of Baptist ministers praying for Obama’s death. There’s a scary level of hysteria and hostility let loose in the land, King said, a dangerous kind of hate.

He’s right.

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