Yesterday, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, seemed more disappointed than stunned that certain Republicans appear to be proud of their racism; he calls them the Ron Johnsons of the GOP. There are plenty of them too.
"It has become perfectly acceptable in the Republican Party," wrote Robinson, "to just go ahead and say the racism out loud-- and to do so with apparent pride, and with no fear of consequences." A couple of days ago, we covered Johnson's latest racist escapade. Our old friend Francesca Hong, arguably the most progressive member of the Wisconsin Assembly, told us that "Senator Ron Johnson is a white supremacist who advertises racism. Stop questioning why we are still the most segregated state in the country and instead, let us all demand the resignation of this embarrassment of a human being who condones the dehumanization of others." And you thought Eugene Robinson was not mincing any words!
He seemed especially incensed about how Johnson described the murderous terrorists who sacked the Capitol on 1/6: "I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned."
"As anyone whose brain is not addled by white supremacy recalls," wrote Robinson, "the rioters showed how much they 'respect law enforcement,' with their actions leading to the death of one police officer who was defending the Capitol and the injury of some 140 others. One policeman was beaten with a pole bearing the American flag, which is a strange way for his attackers to demonstrate love of country. 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-WY) 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." Of course in Wyoming, probably the single most politically backward state in America-- worse than Mississippi, Alabama or West Virginia-- Barrasso can own it with having a worry in the world that it will ever come back to bite him. I would bet that most imbeciles in that hellhole he represents have never seen a Black person in their lives.
"Wisconsin," Randy Bryce told me last night, "is sorry for Ron Johnson. We knew who he was years ago and it took a lot of Republican money and some really slick misleading ads to get him reelected. In 2010 we found out he used prison labor to work at the company that he married into owning. That way he received help on the cheap as well as having the state pay for their health care. Wisconsin has more than one racist elected but right now the one who spent our nation's birthday a few years back in Russia seems to be grabbing most of the headlines. I can't believe that any person today would feel less threatened by an armed mob using our nation's flag as a literal weapon to beat police officers (killing one) and spreading their filth throughout our Capitol's hallways than a group of people expressing righteous anger that a person with dark skin had been shot in the back but here we are. We sent one racist from Washington DC packing to spend the rest of his days cheating at golf and you can place a bet today that Wisconsin will send Ron Johnson elsewhere as well should he feel entitled to run again in 2022."
Back to Robinson for a moment:
[T]he racism of Johnson’s latest words is breathtaking. As far as he is concerned, a White mob at the Capitol that overruns police lines, smashes windows and ransacks offices isn’t breaking the law. In Johnson’s view, the millions of Americans who participated in Black Lives Matter protests do not “love this country.” And according to him, Black people who demonstrate against police violence and structural racism do not “truly respect law enforcement.”
Anyone who knows anything about American history will recognize this mind-set. I was reminded of something another prominent Republican said many years ago:
“I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the White and Black races-- that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with White people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the White and Black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the White race.”
The speaker was Abraham Lincoln in his fourth debate with Stephen A. Douglas, which took place Sept. 18, 1858, in Charleston, Ill. Lincoln’s views on race subsequently evolved, and so did the views of his party. But today’s Republicans have radically devolved — and are becoming increasingly frank defenders of White privilege and position.
Keep Johnson’s words in mind when you hear GOP officials claim that the scores of voter-suppression bills making their way through Republican-controlled state legislatures are merely attempts to guarantee the “integrity” of our elections. If they were-- if they had any intent other than to keep Democratic-leaning Black, Hispanic and Asian American voters away from the polls-- then surely we would hear Republicans across the land making clear there was no place in the party for views like those Johnson expressed. Instead, we hear only guilty silence.
And sometimes, silence is enough to get the message across. On Jan. 6, when Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) raised his fist in solidarity with the crowd gathering at the Capitol, he didn’t say a word. He didn’t have to.
State Sen. Chris Larson may well run for the Wisconsin Senate seat Johnson is disgracing. Last night he told me that Johnson "is being blatantly racist and he is an embarrassment to our great state of Wisconsin. He has decided to give up the dog whistle for a bullhorn as he openly sympathizes with the domestic terrorists that overtook our US Capitol in their attempt to end democracy. He cannot claim ignorance - he was a jurist in the impeachment trial where he was shown police officers scream for help as they were openly assaulted by insurrections hunting for lawmakers. These are the folks he claims "love America." Wisconsin is done tolerating his extremism which is why thousands have signed our petition calling for his resignation. Even the two largest newspapers in the state have called for his immediate removal. Not since Joe McCarthy has there been a senator that's made Wisconsin more embarrassed. To make up for it, we must continue to call out his extremism and get to work to do all we can to remove him from office next year."