Senator Bob Menendez, on the Senate floor, addressed Ron Johnson’s complaints about being called a racist for hi commentary about Black Lives Matter. He gently explained that when people say something purely bigoted, there’s really just no other way to respond.
Senator Ron Johnson this week declared that he didn’t feel afraid of the insurrectionists who mobbed the Capitol building on January 6th. He said the attackers, hundreds of whom have been investigated and questioned, with more than 200 arrested and charged, were people who really loved America — but that if they’d been Black Lives Matter activists, he would have been afraid.
He later responded with frustration that his racist comments were being called out as racist. Now, on the Senate floor, publically and recorded for posterity, Senator Bob Menendez has responded, saying that while he understands being called racist isn’t a good feeling, saying openly bigoted things doesn’t really leave people with many choices. See two video clips below.
Menendez on Ron Johnson: "Everybody in this body should know that when you perpetuate such racist tropes, you contribute to a culture that gives people permission to treat black Americans as suspicious and their lives as expendable." pic.twitter.com/GByTOMYQVO
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 16, 2021
“I get no one likes to be called racist, but sometimes there’s just no other way to describe the use of bigoted tropes that for generations have threatened Black lives by stoking white fear of African Americans, and Black men in particular.” Menendez gave Johnson the benefit of the doubt on one point, though. “I do, however, think my colleague may be ignorant of the pain caused by his comments, and how they compound the trauma that so many feel in the wake of the events of January 6th.”
Johnson had penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed the day before, defending some of his comments — though he left out his claim that the attackers had respect for law enforcement, and instead of repeating his claim that they wouldn’t break the law, he now says that he condemned the lawbreakers.
The original quote, via the Washington Post, was, “those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law.” In his op-ed, he says, “Only about 800 people illegally entered the Capitol. Still fewer engaged in violent acts. I condemned those lawbreakers at the time and continue to do so.”
However, he spins being called out for racist commentary as “the left” trying to “silence” him for “challenge[ing] their left-wing agenda.” Of having his racist words labeled as racist words, he said, “I had no idea they would so thoroughly twist my words and reflexively play the race card.”
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com