The silliest thing (although it is a close call) in John L. Jackson Jr.’s “Brainstorm” entry titled “Racial Apologetics” on the Chronicle of Higher Education blog is that it was organized around the incident of Rep. Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” at President Obama in frustrated response to Obama’s now well-documented (even by MSNBC!), well, misrepresentation of the facts about health care coverage of illegal immigrants.
For many (most?) of Wilson’s critics on the left, he deserved censure not so much for what he said or even for how he said it. As Jackson reports, without any apparent “apologetics,”
the Congressional Black Caucus has been particularly committed to the idea of sanctioning Wilson, and many critics chalk that fact up to the racial imagery of the entire thing: a lone White representative from the South heckling America’s first black President.
I wonder if the lesson here is that it will be O.K. to heckle America’s second and subsequent black president because the “racial imagery of the entire thing” will be attenuated, or that America’s second black president will be a long time coming because Americans will justifiably be reluctant to elect a president again whom they can’t criticize, or even heckle, without being called racist.