Senator Ron Johnson is doubling down on his racist remarks. Last week the Wisconsin Republican said he “never felt threatened” on January 6th because “those are people who love the country… had the tables been turned… and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”
Now in a Wall Street Journal editorial, Johnson says, “I had no idea they would so thoroughly twist my words and reflexively play the race card.”
Monday, Johnson told The Hill “there was nothing racial about my comments (watch above).” But the fact that Johnson doesn’t realize the issue with what he said speaks volumes.
I got elected with Ron Johnson. I always liked Ron Johnson. I don’t recognize Ron Johnson anymore. Haven’t recognized him the past few years. He knew exactly what he was saying the other day. And yes, it was an ugly thing to say. It was a racist thing to say.
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) March 16, 2021
But there is also a bigger conversation underway about the resurgence of racism in America and how comments like Ron Johnson’s don’t even draw a whiff of criticism from his GOP colleagues. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson writes “It has become perfectly acceptable in the Republican Party to just go ahead and say the racism out loud — and to do so with apparent pride, and with no fear of consequences.”
Johnson should have been pilloried by his GOP colleagues in the Senate, but none spoke up in outrage — or even mild disagreement. Asked Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” about Johnson’s comments, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) mumbled something about how members “speak for themselves.” That’s not the way it works, though. When it comes to such unambiguous racism, Republicans have only two choices: denounce it or own it.
"Just think about Ron Johnson being more sympathetic to cop-killers and anti-semitists and people carrying confederate flags than Black folks protesting," says @Bakari_Sellers. "But it's not just about Ron Johnson." Imagine all the other Ron Johnsons out there in daily life. pic.twitter.com/RV7ZMkUaQ7
— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) March 16, 2021
Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told MSNBC, “Ron Johnson sounds like a senator from Alabama in 1921, not a senator from Wisconsin in 2021… it is basically White Supremacists are on the rise… it’s now becoming mainstream… I think a lot of them are saying the quiet part out loud.”
This morning Conservative columnist Matt Lewis told Morning Joe, ”Ron Johnson is obviously an idiot.”
“Ron Johnson’s comments were the best case study I’ve ever seen or the best evidence of systemic racism and subliminal racism. I honestly do not think that he was trolling us initially to try to get attention when he went on that radio show. I honestly do not think that Ron Johnson believes that he is a racist. In his mind, these protesters are our people. you know, they’re good, patriotic white Americans in his mind. I honestly think he believes that. He doesn’t get it and so I think he really proves the point that a lot of us, over the years, also didn’t grasp, which is the fact that a lot of people, a lot of Republicans, sadly, who maybe are just unconsciously racist. You know, they’re harboring this bias, and out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. I think that’s what just happened — Ron Johnson just told us who he is.”
New York Times columnist Mara Gay adds, “We have Donald Trump to thank for this wonderfully disgusting and grotesque outpouring of open racism the likes of which we haven’t seen in this country, in a mainstream cultural sense, I would say since the 1950s, if not the 1920s before that.”