Saturday, September 12, 2009

Racist Lack of Decorum

For those who have not heard, during President Obama's address to Congress this week, at one point Republican Joe Wilson shouted out "You lie!" in response to the President's assertion that illegal immigrants would not be covered under his health care plan. He quickly apologized after the address, and the President accepted that apology.

In response, the pundits and the progressive bloggers have demonstrated all kinds of outrage at the breach of decorum. Not only that, they claim the outburst was motivated by some kind of latent racism in Wilson. On CNN, I watched as a host and his guest bantered back and forth the idea that if Obama had looked more like his mother, Wilson would never have had the temerity to speak out like that.

Thanks to a conversation with a friend of mine, I have come to the conclusion that these people simply do not know what a racist breaking decorum looks like. I, fortunately, have an image for them. It looks like this:


That is a depiction of an incident in the US Senate that occurred on May 22nd, 1856. That day, Senator Preston Brooks (D-SC) strode into the Senate Chamber leaning on his gold-tipped gutta percha cane, which he needed to walk due to having been wounded in a duel. He came up to the desk of Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA) and proceeded to wail on the man with his cane.

Sumner was a fierce abolitionist who days earlier had issued a speech against slavery which included viscious personal (verbal) attacks on Brooks' uncle, Senator Butler also from SC. Brooks, a proponent of slavery, found the insults to his uncle and his state completely unacceptable and decided to punish Sumner.

Thus, in the very model of decorum, Senator Brooks beat Senator Sumner over the head with his cane IN the Senate Chamber until the cane broke and he was eventually dragged away.

So, to those who think Rep. Wilson is racist who broke decorum, take a look at that picture and see the difference. With tensions as high as they are in this debate, we are lucky that our Senators at least have the restraint not to try to beat each other to death on the floor of the Senate, even if they aren't reading the legislation.

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