A project of the Center for Community Change

joe wilson and immigrants

Anti-Immigrant Hate, Obama and Joe Wilson

If you are like me, and millions of others, you tuned in last night to hear President Obama’s health care speech to a joint session of Congress. And while the President gave us plenty to ponder, analyze and, I’ll admit it, still question about the current state of Health Care Reform, there is one moment that has overshadowed the night.

While pushing back on some of the myths perpetuated by much of the GOP and the rabid town-hall-goers, including the non-existence of the infamous “death panels”, President Obama was rudely interrupted by Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC), who shouted (at the top of his lungs) “You lie!“.

First and foremost, the fact that ANY member of Congress somehow thought it was acceptable for this type of outburst, directed at the President in front of a joint session of Congress, means he is lacking the type of judgment and temperament required of an elected official. That much is obvious.

But can we take a second to examine exactly what pushed Wilson to boiling point, allowing him to explode in such a violent and shameful manner? Of course, everyone’s favorite scapegoat – the undocumented immigrant. Check out the video below for Obama’s exact words and Wilson’s shouted rebuttal:

I have to say, I am highly disappointed in Obama, who ran on promises of just and humane immigration reform. He was only too willing to throw undocumented immigrants under the bus last night, not to mention his use of the term “illegal immigrants”. (If you want to debate why this term is a misnomer, please click here and read first).

Its incredible (though not surprising) that the topic of undocumented immigrants is what pushed a GOP member so far that they actually SHOUTED at the President.

From Mario Solis-Marich at NuestraVoice:

It joins the specter of an action by an African American President to the hatred of immigrants that you and others have used as political currency. I have to admit that this combination makes for political dynamite and of course since you have no real ideas for health reform divisive lies may be the only tools at your disposal. Therefore considering your weak and ethically compromised position I can understand the visceral impulse to scream out like a wounded animal. But Mr. Wilson that does not change the fact that the statement that the undocumented can benefit from health reform is a lie, you know it is a lie, therefore you are a liar.

Its like the misinformation and scare-tactics of the red-faced, screaming masses at Town Halls has infected even the most prized spaces for civil discourse. A joint session of Congress? This can’t be what our country has come to.

Not to mention, we are talking about human beings here – many of whom are caught up in a failing system. I wonder how Rep. Wilson would feel if he had to talk face-to-face with the people featured in CHIRLA’s most recent video on health care:

Thankfully, it looks as though Wilson’s lowest moment has become a rallying cry for those who want to pass real health care reform, and has even further delegitimized anti-immigrant politicians. Its a moment when the anti’s are showing their true colors – and they did it in front of the whole country.

As Liza Sabater at CultureKitchen said:

We need more Rep. Joe Wilson’s to speak out against human rights like health care and fair immigration policies. So we can show the world and voters why we need to get rid of them to save democracy.

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