Blogger: Leave Joe Wilson Alone

The Tell Me More audience speaks out about host Michel Martin's recent commentary. Martin weighed in on Republican Congressman Joe Wilson's outburst during President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress. One blogger says Wilson was well within his right to heckle the President. Also, another Tell Me More conversation — on how to talk to children about their cultural heritage — prompted one listener to explain how she's teaching her kids about a conflicted history. Guest host Mandalit del Barco and digital media producer Lee Hill comb through listener feedback.

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MANDALIT DEL BARCO, host:

And now it's time for back talk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere, and we get to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy is here. Lee, what's up?

LEE HILL: Hey, Mandalit. Well, earlier this week in Michel Martin's commentary, she weighed in on the highly debated actions of Congressman Joe Wilson. Now, last week, the Republican from South Carolina shouted, you lie, at the president during his address to the joint session of Congress on health care.

Now, some decried Wilson's action as rude and even though he did apologize, the House did formally reprimand him by passing a resolution this week. Such disciplinary action, according to blogger Jason(ph), is just wrong. I'll read a post from him here.

Jason writes: Wilson's outburst is by no means a reason to be chastised or forced to apologize. Heckling of political officials has been going on since the birth of this nation. The only factor this whole deal is that people need to move past the petty over dramatic reactions to criticism and move into the real debate.

DEL BARCO: Thank you, Jason. We had a conversation also with two conservative talk show hosts on health care and immigration. They shared Joe Wilson's fear that health care benefits will be extended to illegal immigrants. Here's a clip from that conversation

(Soundbite of archived broadcast)

Mr. ROGER HEDGECOCK (Conservative Talk Radio Host): The illegal immigration issue has caused our schools to be in a death spiral, our prisons to be overcrowded, the tensions - because the federal government has failed to address this issue. So, to compound the issue by making maybe nine, or 10, or 12 million people eligible for subsidized health insurance at a time when we're having difficulty extending that to American citizens and legal immigrants is something we find that just compounds the problem.

DEL BARCO: That was Roger Hedgecock, who hosts the nationally syndicated show from San Diego. His comments didn't sit well with blogger, Steve, who writes these talkies epitomize the racism from the right. They will turn any debate into an argument over illegals, his words, to tie health care to any albatross they can find. Steve writes, it's not the job health care reform to solve the immigration problem.

HILL: Thanks, Steve. Also, Mandalit, this week we spoke about the importance and sometimes difficulty of talking to kids about their cultural heritage when that history is layered with the realities of racism and injustice. Here's a clip of that discussion with regular parenting contributor, Jolene Ivey.

(Soundbite of archived broadcast)

JOLENE IVEY: I think that it really helps if you're able to find examples in your own family and say, yeah, this is where we came from, but look where we're going and look how far we've come and look how that person back there, that person who was a slave or was in a death camp perhaps. If that person was able to survive and form a foundation and pass things onto us and so you're able to live.

HILL: After that conversation, we received this note from Alison, who says she is white. Alison writes that recently I watched the miniseries, "Roots" with my 10-year-old and 16-year-old. I've not seen it since I was a young adult without children. The three of us cried together and talked about slavery and its legacy. I think that "Roots" are something like it should be required for kids in school to watch. It gave my kids a new perspective.

DEL BARCO: Thank you, Alison, and thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Mandalit.

DEL BARCO: And remember with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends to tell us more. You can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Remember to leave your name and you can also log on to your new Web site to read more. Go to npr.org click on programs and then on to TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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