West and Wilson Deserve Each Other

I’m pretty sure that Kanye West and Joe Wilson have nothing in common. Kanye is a swaggerific hip-hop fashionista who wears Alexander McQueen suits and Yohji Yamamoto gloves, and whose vanity is only eclipsed by his ego. Joe Wilson is an extremely white, Southern Republican congressman who has never heard a Wu-Tang Clan song and who once voted against the removal of the confederate flag at South Carolina’s capital.

But West and Wilson do have one thing in common: Both men are tactless, disrespectful opportunists.

When Joe Wilson broke protocol during Obama’s healthcare speech and shouted “You lie!” it was shockingly disrespectful; Likewise when Kanye ripped the microphone from sweet little Taylor Swift and stole her VMA thunder. In both cases these men spoke out of turn in trying to prove a point but failed to prove anything but their own annoying dearth of class. In both cases there were subtle racial undertones at play that made the outbursts even more offensive.

But worse than their actual transgressions were their flimsy, shotgun apologies West and Wilson quickly offered to shift the blame away from their own stupid actions. Wilson apologized soon after his “You lie!” outburst, but has since been refusing to publicly apologize again (instead he seems happy to be raking in the fundraising money as the GOPs new bad boy). West, meanwhile, wrote a bizarre all-caps apology on his blog just hours after his Taylor Swift assault, saying he was “SOOOO SORRY” but also “EVERYBODY WANNA BOOOOO ME BUT I’M A FAN OF REAL POP CULTURE!! … I’M NOT CRAZY YALL, I’M JUST REAL.” Oh really, Kanye? So being “REAL” entails being an insensitive low-class pop culture predator? And then he goes on Jay Leno and tries to play the confused victim who is still in grief for his mother? Please.

The rush to apology seems indicative of our culture’s unwillingness to truly take ownership of wrongdoing. When we say or do something stupid, we are lightning quick to wash our hands of it—whether via “apology” or some other recompense—rather than suffer any consequences for our actions. But wake up, Kanye and Joe: If you want our respect, you need to get over yourselves, suffer a little bit for your offenses and NOT throw down a quickie apology wrapped in narcissism.

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16 responses to “West and Wilson Deserve Each Other

  1. Without excusing Wilson (who was certainly out of line), I feel like his outburst was more understandable than Kanye’s. Kanye’s was childish, foolish, and took an enormous amount of arrogance to even think that it was okay to get up in front of millions of people, interrupt someone, and then insult them.

    Joe Wilson’s outburst (again, while out of place and also in front of millions) was short and quick (he didn’t leave his seat or rip the microphone from Obama’s hand) and probably erupted without much thought, born out of passion for his beliefs and frustration over what he was hearing as a series of untruths from the mouth of the leader of our country. (The White House has, by the way, quietly admitted that the President’s statement to which Wilson objected was indeed incorrect.)

    So again, without condoning the actions of either individual, I can sympathize more with Mr. Wilson than I can with Mr. West, and while their actions are somewhat similar, I don’t personally see it as an apples-to-apples comparison.

  2. Mr. Wilson followed the proper protocols for apologizing. He called the White House personally to offer his apologies (which the President accepted). There is no need for him to apologize on the floor of the House. This is Pelosi trying to flex her dwindling muscle for no reason at all.

    Kanye was drunk. Wilson was angry. I’m not justifying either outburst (although I don’t have any problem with Wilson’s outburst; it was true after all) but I don’t think you can just lump them together or paint either picture with the same brush.

    I do take issue with your statement that there were racial overtones present in both of these outbursts, Brett. I find it staggeringly ironic that in the era of our “post-racial President” we are more race sensitive than ever. It’s preposterous.

  3. I agree that there’s not much reason to compare Kanye West with Joe Wilson–definitely an apples-to-oranges endeavor. I am rather mystified by the attempts to rationalize Wilson’s behavior, though, both here and in the media.

    I find Wilson’s outburst a lot harder to stomach than West’s. West is an entertainer; Wilson is a lawmaker in a position of considerable power and therefore subject to a higher standard. How any mature adult could find himself at a legislative session in the government of the most powerful country on earth, and then forget himself so completely (if, indeed, it was a totally spontaneous and emotional reaction, which I’m not buying for a second), is simply inexcusable. Joe Wilson is a congressman. Kanye West is just a dick.

    The problem with Wilson wasn’t that he had his facts wrong (he didn’t) or that he broke some rule of protocol (who cares?) but that his belligerence is symptomatic of a growing trend in American politics toward invective and unchecked emotion instead of thoughtful debate. The example he set during Obama’s speech is a toxic influence on the way people in this country think about political issues. It’s bad enough that the average citizen has ideologues like Keith Olberman, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, and Michael Moore shouting in his face all the time; once his elected officials begin engaging in the same behavior, what reason does he have to even try to be well-informed and open-minded? It’s a further deterioration of rational discourse in this country that’s incredibly depressing.

  4. Actually, Kevin, according to FactCheck.org, illegal immigrants will not be covered under Obama’s health care plan.

    Did anyone see Kanye on Leno last night? I only saw a short clip on Huffington Post. Not sure if it was a sincere apology, or just something his PR guys told him to do. I do hope he takes some time away from the limelight and, make good records again.

  5. The reason people claim that Wilson was correct and Obama was wrong was that there is no ‘enforcement’ to ensure that illegal immigrants aren’t covered, despite the fact that the bill in question specifically states that illegal immigrants will not be covered. This strikes me as similar to saying that current laws allow murder to occur when the police aren’t around, since the law cannot be enforced.

  6. Travis and Kevin – if Wilson was wrong, then why did the White House release a statement conceding that illegals would benefit from public hospitals being compensated by the Federal gov’t? The administration also backed a provision requiring documentation of citizens before purchasing on the “exchange”. Both of these would be completely unneccesary if Mr. Wilson was facetiously calling President Obama a liar. The President was in fact lying.

    kevin – you make some good points and I do understand where you are coming from. I just don’t agree. I would like to know if you were calling for the same amount of civility during the unprecedented amount of disrespect shown to then-President Bush during his second term? I know that these Congressional Democrats certainly were not and methinks Pelosi doth protest too much..

    But this is not my main reason for supporting Mr. Wilson’s actions. What purpose does civility serve in the face of the dishonesty and avarice that we have seen from Congress over the past few decades? Yes, we can be polite and save our neatly prepared rebuttals for the designated time and place but what will that accomplish?? Historically, “playing nice” and observing protocol has gotten us a self-serving Congress that is quick to act in benefit to themselves and slow to address constituent concerns. To quote the rallying cry of the current Tea Party movement, “We’re Mad As Hell and We’re Not Going to Take It Anymore!” I realize that Mr. Wilson is not a paragon and more than likely falls into the category of self-serving politician but with his bold (and yes, rash) declaration he has become a de-facto brother-in-arms with us. And the charges against him are the same charges that have been leveled at us (racist, grand-standing, belligerent).

    I am mad, I will be belligerent, and I am unapologetic. It’s high time we stopped hiding behind protocol and started kicking some dead-beat “public servants” out of office!

  7. I stand corrected on the illegal immigration comment. Some friends of mine pointed out the loophole that Tim Coe mentioned.

    As far as the whole “Tea Party” movement, technically that’s not getting anything accomplished either. With all the shouting going on, it’s not leaving a lot of room to talk about these issues.

  8. I so appreciate your post, Brett. People’s wrong actions rarely irk me (I know how powerful sin is), but man o man, the refusal to take responsibility once doing something wrong–THAT gets under my skin in a big way.

  9. Luke, you asked if Wilson was wrong, then why did the White House release a statement conceding that illegals would benefit from public hospitals being compensated by the Federal gov’t?

    As I said, this is specious reasoning. If Obama’s proposals would, as Wilson directly implied, cover illegal immigrants because federal funding would go towards hospitals that cover illegals, then our healthcare system as it now stands is one in which illegal immigrants are covered. Anyone who shows up in the emergency room right now receives treatment that is paid for by taxpayer money, including illegal immigrants. The implication that Obama’s plan includes a ‘loophole’ simply because people are capable of breaking the law is asinine.

  10. Your statement about racial undertones to Wilson’s outburst was made without foundation or any attempt at evidence. Just because a person does not agree with or is suspicious of the agenda of our president who happens to be black does not mean that those doubts are based on race. Implying so without foundation in a public forum is pretty irresponsible.

  11. Jeff,

    To be fair, Wilson has a history of questionable stances with regards to racial issues. When Strom Thurmond’s illegitimate (black) daughter revealed to the public that Thurmond was her father, Wilson said she should not have done so because it was a ‘smear’ and a way to ‘diminish’ his legacy. After it was verified that she was, in fact, Thurmond’s daughter, Wilson apologized but maintained that she should have kept it to herself.

    He’s also the guy who, in 2000, championed keeping the Confederate flag flying over the South Carolina state house. In 1999 he claimed that ‘the Confederate heritage is very honorable.’

    Wilson has also spearheaded efforts to make English the official language of the country as well as efforts to ensure that government services are available only in English– this while South Carolina has, according to the US Census, the fastest-growing Latino population two years running.

  12. Tim, even if Obamacare would maintain the status quo in regards to illegal immigrants, the President very clearly said that his plan would not benefit those who are here illegally. This is a lie. If he had said that our current system does not benefit those who are here illegally, that would also have been a lie. I’m not speaking about the fact that our current system provides access to benefits that it should not to people who are here illegally, but the President did speak an untruth, Wilson called him on it, and the White House has indicated that they acknowledge the truth of Wilson’s indictment, (but not in so many words).

    An illegitimate daughter does diminish Thurm0nd’s legacy. Doesn’t matter what color the daughter is, so again race isn’t a factor here. I don’t know what your grasp on American history is Tim, but the Confederate states do have a honorable history that exists entirely separate from the issue of slavery. I’m certain that Wilson was not glorifying or advocating the slavery in the Confederate’s past, but in our day of hyper-racial-sensitivity, it’s assumed that he was.

    What is the problem with English being the official language of the country? Our founding documents are written in English and the majority of our citizens speak it as a primary language. I whole-heartedly support these efforts. I fail to see what factor race-demographics of South Carolina play in this issue. Are you suggesting that since South Carolina has a growing Latino population, they should change the way things work down there? The Latino residents are moving to South Carolina, not the other way around. We have a centrally spoken and recognized language. Non-English-speaking residents have access to free English language courses through the internet and their local libraries, in addition to any taught in the community. There is no excuse for an American citizen to be unconversant in English.

  13. Luke,

    Obama’s exact words were ‘the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.’

    As an aside, by the way, I disagree with your statement that our healthcare system should not benefit those who are here illegally. Feel free to disagree with me, but when someone stumbles into an emergency room, dying, I believe that the hospital should do all that they can to keep that person alive, regardless of immigration status. I cannot imagine the inhumanity of a system that turned away gunshot victims without greencards.

    Regarding official languages of the United States, I have thought for years that one of the greatest things about this country is that we have no official language– it reflects our melting-pot vision of ourselves, our commitment to democracy and freedom not to proscribe to our citizens how they must communicate with one another. If, in 150 years, the vast majority of American discourse takes place in Spanish, I don’t see why that would be any sort of loss or affront to anything.

    Additionally, I cannot think of a single reason to advocate that government services be made available in only one language, especially if those services are already bi- or multilingual.

  14. Tim,

    Late response here. Sorry..

    I never said that I do not believe that emergency care should be provided for all. I do believe that emergency care should be provided, regardless of legal status. And it is, so there is no reason to argue the point. I do however feel that there needs to be some form of monetary guarantee when the person is admitted. It is not reasonable to expect our private emergency rooms to function as charity-care. There are free county hospitals for that. I would imagine that many of these type of emergency patients receive treatment and never repay a dime, despite the fact that the majority of them do not pay taxes and send much of their money made in our economy outside of our country to stimulate another economy.

    I fail to see how advocating no official language in America reinforces the “melting pot” vision for our country. In order for us to be a melting pot, we need to melt. Our cultures need to bleed into each other to create a new culture. One of the growing impediments to this process is linguistics. There are few barriers in society that are as insurmountable as the language barrier. In our larger cities we have large swaths of neighborhoods that are subnational enclaves. I believe this is in large part due to the fact that people are lazy and will not learn another language unless they are forced to. This is slowly killing the “melting pot”, in my opinon, and is fracturing our national identity.

  15. Alright then, I strongly advocate making Spanish the official language of the US. I trust you have no problem with this position?

  16. Sorry, been super busy and missed this post.

    Of course I have a problem with that. There is not a majority of our citizens who speak Spanish. English is the language spoken by the majority of Americans and our founding documents are written in it.

    Why the specious question?

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