A Republican candidate for Kentucky’s House of Representatives has expressed no remorse for a series of racially charged posts on his Facebook page — including several likening the Obamas to monkeys. Dan Johnson, the man in question, recently said he is in fact the candidate who will “make Kentucky great again.”
Johnson was caught posting a picture of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama likened to chimpanzees, as well as a picture of a monkey captioned, “Obama’s baby picture.” He also posted a picture of President Ronald Reagan bottle-feeding a chimpanzee with the caption, “Rare photo of Ronald Reagan babysitting Barack Obama in early 1962.”
Johnson denied these photos were racist and in fact said that not posting negative photos about the Obamas would be racist.
“I looked this up. There has been no president that hasn’t had that scrutiny. Not one. I think it would be racist not to do the same for President Obama as we’ve done for every other president,” he said in an interview with WDRB News.
In addition, Johnson also posted photos of the Confederate flag and memes that call for a ban of Islam in America.
Last week, Johnson said he has no intention of dropping out of the race, despite calls from numerous Kentucky Republicans. Rather, he said, he will challenge political correctness and “the status quo.”
“There’s a need for change in Frankfort … somebody needs to take a sledgehammer to the status quo — and I’m that person,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Johnson proudly compared himself to Trump.
“If anybody is watching the news, the Republican Party has asked a few people to drop out of this race during this season,” he said. “For the record, Donald Trump, that’s running for the Republican Party, has been asked to drop out, and thank God he didn’t.”
He also invoked Trump’s campaign slogan.
“I’m that guy to take that sledgehammer — to make Bullitt County great again, to make Kentucky great again,” he said. “I’m willing to do the job.”
Trump’s well-known “Make America Great Again” catchphrase has been widely interpreted to mean “Make America White Again.”
The pictures, which first surfaced in September, have since been removed from Johnson’s Facebook. When first interviewed by WDRB News Johnson questioned, “Well, I’d like to know first off, what images that are being considered offensive.”
When shown the pictures in question Johnson said, “I love America. I love people. I believe red, yellow, black and white, all are precious in God’s sight. I’m not a racist.”
Johnson is a bishop at a church, and his church sign reads, “Jesus and this church are not politically correct.”
“It wasn’t meant to be racist. I can tell you that. My history’s good there. I can see how people would be offended in that. I wasn’t trying to offend anybody, but, I think Facebook’s entertaining,” Johnson said.
When questioned about his Confederate flag postings, Johnson said, “That flag was for state rights. The reason it is under attack now is we’re being attacked as state rights and constitutionalists. We are being attacked.”
Johnson’s interpretation is historically inaccurate, however. The Confederate flag is in fact not one of the three national flags that represented the Confederate nation during the Civil War. The flag, also known as the “rebel flag,” only became associated with the Confederacy after the Civil War ended. More recently, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) has used the flag to advance its agenda, although it is not the group’s official flag.
A statement on behalf of the Republican Party, released by Chairman Mac Brown, says, in part, “Dan Johnson’s comments and social media posts are outrageous and have no place in today’s political discourse. They represent the rankest sort of prejudice present in our society and do not in any way, shape or form represent the views of the Republican Party of Kentucky or the many fine candidates representing us on the ballot this November.”
Tres Watson, communications director for the Republican Party of Kentucky, said free speech does not equal the right to post comments such as Johnson’s.
“We have to not only understand what our rights are as Americans, especially when it comes to free speech, [but] have to show good judgment when exercising them,” he said.
Obamas Receive Racist Treatment
While every president does face insults, especially in today’s social media age, Obama and his family have faced significant racist treatment throughout Obama’s two terms, both from social media users across the country and other politicians.
Earlier this year, the comment section of an Associated Press article about Obama’s 17-year-old daughter, Malia Obama, was flooded with racist comments, calling her a racial slur, an “ape,” a “monkey” and accusing her of not deserving her entry to the university but getting it thanks to “Black privilege.”
In 2014, Elizabeth Lauten, former communications director for U.S. Republican Rep. Steven Fincher (Tenn.) resigned following a Facebook post in which she accused Malia Obama and sister Sasha Obama of having no class.
Last year, the mayor of a small town in Washington that Obama was visiting called the president “monkey man.” When Obama arrived to the town, he was greeted by demonstrators waving Confederate flags.