Wissot: Playing the race card in reverse
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is gifted. He can lie and deny with the best of them. Johnson is currently serving as denier in chief for Trump. Inc.
Over the past four years, he has an unblemished record of sycophantic support for the former president. He denied that Trump did anything wrong in the Mueller Report; in the phone call to the Ukrainian president; in his handling of the coronavirus; in claiming that he won the election.
Johnson recently drew criticism for saying he didn’t feel threatened by the group of white rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 because “ I knew these were people who love this country, that truly respect law enforcement and wouldn’t do anything to break the law.
Say what? Which riot was he at on Jan. 6? It certainly wasn’t the one where a police officer was killed, members of Congress cowered in their chambers, and rioters shouted, “Hang Mike Pence.” If this is how people who love this country and respect law enforcement carry on, I would hate to see how a really lawless mob behaved.
Johnson added that if Trump had won and the rioters protesting the election outcome were part of the Black Lives Matter movement or Antifa, he wouldn’t have felt as safe. I wonder why a mob of mostly Black rioters would scare him more than a mob of mostly white rioters? Does he believe that Black rioters are inherently more dangerous than white rioters? When someone tries to impale you with a Confederate flag, or taser you to the ground, or lace your face with bear spray, do you feel safer if a white person is doing that to you?
I don’t think Johnson really felt safe that day. But I think he lied about it to distract from the fact that it was white Trump supporters who were engaged in violence. He needed to shift the locus of racial blame by saying, without any factual basis, that BLM protesters turned rioters were worse.
There is no moral equivalent between the Jan. 6 insurrection and the violence which marred the BLM protests in Minneapolis and Portland last summer. The insurrection was far worse because it jeopardized the peaceful transition of power and attempted to return to office a man who lost an election and didn’t deserve to continue as president.
Burning and vandalizing buildings are crimes committed by anarchists who should be punished within the full extent of the law. But storming the citadel of democracy in an attempt to overturn the will of a majority of voters in a free and fair presidential election is a seditious act and undermines the very rule of law itself.
Excusing the crimes of white people while blaming Black people for theirs is blatant racism. When white rioters who killed a police officer are referred to as patriotic and law-abiding and Black rioters who vandalize buildings are called hoodlums, it is clear that the color of a person’s skin is the criteria employed to determine guilt and innocence.
Ron Johnson and the rest of the Republican Party have a race problem that has nothing to do with Black people. How many elections beyond the local and county level do they think they can win by condoning white violence? How many elections at the state and national level do they think can be won pandering to a loyal base of Confederate flag wavers? How many other Republican voters who don’t want to be associated with mob rule can they count on to help them regain the House, the Senate and the White House?
2022 is coming up and 2024 is on the horizon. It is said that God’s reset button is pain and suffering. The Republicans are going to soon find out if they will have to hit the reset button in order to remain a viable political party.
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at email@example.com.