The underlying issue here is not merely that Joe is rude and crude, with no sense of decorum or civility. Nor is the underlying issue his so-called "apology" which began with Joe stating that the Republican leadership had forced him into it, and ended (for the moment) with his endless equivocations while boasting that he was merely pointing out President Obama's lies in not-very-polite language. Joe clearly believes that his offense was not in calling the President a liar, but in making life a mite harder for the Republican leadership, who have had to attempt damage control over Joe's tactless and tasteless remark.
It's quite interesting the forms that damage control attempt has taken - his fellow House Republicans, during the debate over the mild slap on the wrist which Joe received from the House for his outburst, stressed the following points:
1) Joe Wilson is a good man, a retired military officer with four sons in the military, who has served his country gallantly.
2) Joe Wilson had a momentary loss of control, which was not really his fault given the provocation of having to hear the President's remarks.
3) Joe Wilson, having made his halfway-apology to the President, had no further obligation to apologize to the House whose rules he broke.
None of those mediocre arguments is convincing. As a retired military officer, Joe Wilson well knows the respect and deference due to the nation's Commander-in-Chief, President Obama. Further, not being in control of himself is not something to be taken lightly or dismissed. Finally, the U.S. House of Representatives was wronged by Joe Wilson's intemperate outburst just as much as was the President, and had he merely apologized on the floor of the House for that wrong, that would have undoubtedly been the end of the matter. But, he did not do so.
However, the matter of Joe Wilson being a racist goes beyond all of the above, and reflects such an ingrained pattern of behavior that one is led to wonder just how far America has come in race relations, even with a Black President in office. Yelling out YOU LIE is not something one does with an equal, and certainly not to the holder of the highest office in the land. Rather, that nauseating phrase represents the way an inferior is addressed, or a member of a race seen as inferior to one's own race.
That is why Joe Wilson's outburst is so telling, so descriptive of his real beliefs. A racist does not bother to use reasoned discourse or politeness to differ with a perceived inferior, he merely uses contempt. A racist feels free to interrupt a major address on a major issue facing the American people to indulge in petty spitefulness and name calling, when the person giving that address on that issue is a member of a race which he considers inferior to his own race. A racist, if forced to "apologize", is so grudging in his apology that it is almost worse than no apology at all, because racists choose not to apologize to those they think inferior.
Some Republicans maintain that Joe Wilson's outburst -- which raised him some million dollars for his next campaign from like-thinkers -- helped focus the debate over health care in America on the coverage or non-coverage of illegal aliens. But, what Joe really did, was to refocus America on how far we have yet to go in the struggle to end racism.
Racism in America will eventually cease, but no thanks to Joe Wilson.