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Joe Wilson: Not This Time

Written By John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D
Friday, 18 September 2009

United States Representative Joe Wilson, formally known as Addison Graves Wilson, is a White southerner who was born in Charleston, South Carolina, a state known for its unique history and heritage of racial exceptional-ism. Joe Wilson was born on July 31, 1947 in the period of Jim Crow laws and received his high school diploma in 1962 during the time of heightened civil rights struggles. But today, by his unusual and atypical deeds, he is reminding America of the old doings and images of South Carolina through his recent national outburst.

On September 9th, 2009 during a major Presidential speech to a joint session of Congress in the sacred chamber of House of Representatives, Joe Wilson grossly acted out an old Southern ritualistic fury with his outburst towards the President of the United States of America, who happens to be defined as Black by America’s established racial traditions.

Joe Wilson, while closely surrounded by other well-suited White males, as currently, there are no Black Republicans in House of Representatives, broke the code of decorum, politesse or respectability as he yelled at the first Black-skinned human to occupy the office of the presidency. This sort of behavior is rare, unreal and unprecedented in modern American history. Joe Wilson’s open disrespect to the office of the presidency was in full display as over 30 million Americans watched the President Obama’s speech.

The ‘YOU LIE’ verbalization not only shook up the president as evidenced by the sudden observable nervous movement, but even the all-White Republican body - including the Lily White congressional republican southerners - responded with disbelief to the heckler’s act.

In line with this extraordinary uproar by one southern man, could it be that some of Joe Wilson’s racial memories spontaneously revealed themselves through a line of disruptive law makers like Representative Preston Brooks, a supporter of Black enslavement who in 1856 approached Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on the Senate floor, canned and beat him till he became unconscious as a result of his pro-African-American positions.

Most notably, could it be that Joe Wilson found his out-of-world act of disruptive behavior as a result of having been mentored by Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, a man known for his legendary racist acts and proceeds? It was Joe Wilson, in 2003 that characterized it as a "smear" when Essie Mae Washington Williams revealed her long held suppression that her secret biological father was Senator Strom Thurmond.

Joe Wilson in 2000 voted for the continued flying of the Confederate flag over South Carolina’s State House because the flag represents the "Southern heritage... and is very honorable" while open-minded Americans view it as a symbol of racial divide.

Therefore, Joe Wilson a ‘son’ from the old southern confederate cosmos could have been indirectly but "spontaneously" invoking and playing out the hate-filled master-servant relationship in the old South, in South Carolina especially. The Southern spirit of the past drove South Carolina to be the first to secede from the United States of America around 1860 because of old-aged abhorrence for Blackness. It was also that same spirit that belittled and disparaged the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution, which in 1865 freed or ‘de-slaved’ Blacks from the American enslavement system.

Inadvertently, on September 9th, 2009 Joe Wilson, a Southern bench backer in the United States House of Representatives, unleashed the old ways and traditions on a Black man, who by previous Southern definition should be a "servant" and not a "master." By definition, a Black man is supposed to know his place in American history and remain aware that he is always automatically expected to be ‘civil’ or ‘polite’ in front of a nearly all White-male political session. Anything from a Black man other than verbalizing an automatic ‘Yes Master’ response brings out old rituals of being shouted upon, faced with finger-pointing, or even being burnt, lynched or killed.

Joe Wilson now knows that today, multiculturalism is a reality. An American society of the 21st century is obviously no longer a sacred place for any one who still carries the burden of the old White supremacy mentality.

Joe Wilson’s verbal delivery in the old southern days would have been met by additional shouts, heckles and uproars against a Black man or any other ‘less than’, since that was acceptable in the days of the confederacy. Joe Wilson was markedly mistaken. ‘Not this time.’ With apparent shame, aloneness and timidity, he almost ran off of the floor of the Congress right after Obama’s healthcare-related presidential message.

For Joe Wilson to fully realize the new times in America and the reality that we are no longer in the backwoods era of America, he should realistically put to use his training in ethics while in law school, his military experience as well as his long-learned congressional values by showing a full blown admission of guilt.

An apology or formal act of contrition should start in front of the State House in South Carolina, then in the Congressional House and lastly in a dramatic way on the Al Sharpton and Rush Limbaugh radio shows respectively. This apology is still needed in spite of the mid-september, 2009 Congressional rebuke of Joe Wilson. But in the absence of materializing on these Obadiah-like "treatments", there is great need for open-mindedness, unity, positivity, wholeness, quietude and tolerance.

Joe Wilson on his own appears to have left bad lessons for our children and in a more unsettling way, risks the political contempt of our now multicultural America. Let’s hope he gravely takes these points into his spirit and do what is best for the sake of succeeding generations and posterity.


John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D, is a practicing clinical/forensic psychologist in Miami, Florida. 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 01 October 2009 )


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