The XX Factor

Leave Joe Wilson Alone

We wake up this morning to a newly school–marmish Maureen Dowd scolding Joe Wilson (again) and praising yesterday’s congressional reprimand of him as a “rare triumph of civility.” So now we have, as our new public faces of politeness and good manners, Rahm Emanuel, the prince of potty mouth , and Maureen Dowd, queen of the wicked insult. Maybe they can tour the elementary school circuit together.

Actually, what this whole affair reminds me of is freshman year of college, which for me happened during the height of the P.C. era. The way the left has decided to skewer Joe Wilson is by calling him a racist. Now, there’s no doubt that Wilson is playing this both ways, apologizing in public and then egging on his scary rabid fans on Twitter. And there’s no doubt that some of his fans are nutbag racists who spend the rest of their time fomenting the “birther” movement.

Yes, Joe Wilson supports flying the Confederate flag. You’d be hard pressed to find a Republican from South Carolina who doesn’t. The big revelations in the Dowd column today come from Rep. James Clyburn, the highest-ranking black Congressman. Clyburn mentions Wilson’s membership in a shady pro-Confederate organization. This is a group that in its early days had some links to the KKK. Again, pretty common in South Carolina. Then Clyburn mentions some “real nasty things” he said about the black woman claiming to be Strom Thurmond’s daughter. At the time Wilson took Thurmond’s side because he had worked for him. He said the charges were “unseemly.” That’s not all that nasty.

We could back and forth on these charges for a while. I don’t want to cheerlead Joe Wilson, he’s not my kind of guy. He’s your average blinkered Southern nostalgist. But is that racist? “Racist” is something we say to get someone to shut up. “Students are looking to us, and they ought not to be able to ever feel that such bad behavior would be condoned,” said Clyburn. Honestly, I’d rather they learn that in America, anyone can call the president a liar and not be hunted down.