Both Sen. Bob Menendez and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn called Sen. Ron Johnson “racist” following his comments about the January 6 Capitol attack.
During an interview with a conservative talk show host, Johnson, who represents the state of Wisconsin, said he “might have” felt threatened if the attackers had been members of Black Lives Matter or Antifa. The comments sparked backlash as Johnson noted he didn’t feel unsafe when white supremacists actually stormed the Capitol that day, leaving five dead.
“Look, 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 said from the Senate floor on Tuesday (March 16), as reported by NBC News.
“I don’t think the senator is ignorant of the fact that for centuries in this country white supremacy has thrived on using fear to justify oppression, discrimination and violence against people of color,” Sen. Menendez of New Jersey said. “I do, however, think my colleague may be ignorant of the pain caused by his comments and unaware of how they compound the trauma that so many still feel in the wake of the events of January 6.”
Rep. Clyburn echoed similar sentiments during an interview with Don Lemon on CNN, stating plainly, “The guy is racist.”
“I heard it the way he meant it,” Clyburn said in response to Johnson’s defense of his remarks. “You know, the moment he said or prefaced his last statement, ‘I know I’m going to get in trouble for this,’ then went on to say it, said to me he knew exactly what he was saying, he knew why he was saying it, he knew exactly how the reactions would be,” Clyburn added, per a report by The Huffington Post. “He just didn’t care.”