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Joe Wilson's Outburst and a Sneak Peek at the Immigration Debate

If you didn't know, Congressman Wilson (South Carolina - R) shouted "You lie!" at the President of the United States of America during a joint session of Congress.  South Carolina Democratic party chair Carol Fowler commented, "Never has any member of Congress shown such disrespect for the president during a speech" (CNN)  FYI, you can contribute to Wilson's midterm election opponent -- Rob Miller has a decent shot at winning in 2010.

Beyond the extreme disrespect shown by Wilson, what progressives should note about this incident is that it is clearly an early sneak peek at what's to come in the next policy battle - immigration reform.  Others in the blogosphere have already begun commenting on the outburst and the implications for the immigration reform debate (New America Media; RaceWire).  The Wilson rudeness came in response to the President asserting that his healthcare plan does not provide coverage for undocumented immigrants.  What I realize when watching/listening to right wing talk shows is that they don't differentiate between permanent resident immigrants who are not US citizens and undocumented immigrants who are also not US citizens.  While the health reform plan covers healthcare for permanent resident immigrants (aka "legal immigrants"), the President says it doesn't cover undocumented immigrants (aka "illegal immigrants").  I believe that as a human right, healthcare should be provided to all, regardless of immigration status, but that's for a different post.

I can't help but feel that this vitriol for Obama's policy plans have a lot to do with (a) rampant xenophobia, (b) people equating "not white" with "not American" (don't we Asian Americans know that feeling?), and (c) the fear of the inevitable that Whites will no longer be the majority population in the next three decades or less.  The lack of intelligence and decorum in the policy debate makes me think that these are the only possible reasons for guns at town halls and general nonsense.

There's your sneak peek at the immigration reform debate.  Let's see if that debate will be crazier than this one.  I pray that people come to their senses before then.

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Linda Leu on Thu, 09/10/2009 - 12:26

It clearly goes beyond fear and hatred of immigrants, I think it also has to do with discontentment with a non-white president too.  It wasn't just Joe Wilson, if you watched all the reaction shots from other members in the audience, it was pretty clear that they felt no social obligation to show the President any respect.

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