Last weekend, I told you about Dan Johnson, a Louisville-based pastor and self-proclaimed bishop who is running for the Kentucky House of Representatives as a Republican. Apparently he got the bright idea to plaster disgustingly racist memes on his Facebook page–including several portraying President Obama as an ape. He claims it was just entertainment and satire. However, nobody else thinks this is funny. Both parties have condemned Johnson’s memes in the strongest possible terms, and the Kentucky GOP even called for him to pull out of the race.
Well, Johnson gave his answer on Tuesday afternoon. He not only declared that he has no intention of getting out, but doubled down on his deplorable excuse for these memes. At a press conference held at the Bullitt County Courthouse–near the center of the district Johnson is trying to win–Johnson continued to claim that his memes were just satire and entertainment.
In case you missed it, Johnson came under fire last week when word got out that he posted a picture showing ape-like features photoshopped onto Barack and Michelle’s faces, as well as another suggesting a picture of a baby chimp was the president’s baby picture.
He also posted a picture of Ronald Reagan feeding a baby monkey–supposedly, an infant President Obama.
Most of us would consider these pictures to be despicably racist. But not Johnson. repeated his earlier line that “Facebook is entertainment.” He felt he was simply calling out politicians who have “made a monkey out of Kentucky” and “made a monkey out of the American people.” He not only claimed that he wasn’t a racist, but actually claimed that he had support from black pastors who would appear with him at a subsequent press conference.
When asked if he considered whether these posts would offend anyone, Johnson replied that he was fed up with those who were being “politically correct” and are scared of offending anyone. He himself said that didn’t want to offend anyone “except the politicians.” He harrumphed that it ought to be offensive “to every Republican and every Democratic politician who has not been doing their job.” He wasn’t bothered by state party officials calling for him to get out of the race, saying that they hadn’t supported his candidacy anyway.
For his defiant public stance, Johnson must be feeling the heat. On Monday, I noticed that Johnson had apparently walled off his entire Facebook feed. See for yourself.
Speaking for those officials, state GOP spokesman Tres Watson claimed that at this point, his party has done everything it can do. He said that the ball is now in Johnson’s court, and that it came down to him “removing himself from the ballot.”
Weak sauce, Tres. There actually is something the Kentucky state house Republicans can do. They could declare that if Johnson wins in November, he will not be allowed to caucus with them. The Republicans actually have a realistic chance at taking control of the state house for the first time since 1921. A look at Daily Kos’ database of state legislative election data shows an awful lot of Democrats sitting in districts that Mitt Romney won in 2012 by 60 percent or more. The district where Johnson is running, the 49th, is one of them; Romney took a punishing 65 percent there. It’s only fair to ask–are they so determined to retake the majority that they are willing to have a racist knuckledragger in their number?
The state GOP took a commendable step by telling Johnson to get out of the race. After this tone-deaf speech, it needs to take the next step and let it be known that Johnson won’t be allowed in their caucus if he is elected. It would send the message loud and clear that this is not entertainment. This is racism of the worst type.