Robin Givhan writes of Ron Johnson, and others, in Just let them keep talking:
A certain caste of people is talking and talking — unleashing their prejudices and their irrational fears, trafficking in anger and personal pathos. They’re melting down on television. They’re litigating their hurt feelings. They’ve not been canceled by the culture — no matter how much the culture tries — as much as they are talking about being canceled or about being misunderstood.
Their endless verbiage makes some long for silence — for the bliss of quiet and the end of the impolitic phrase. But it may be that the only way to get at the truth of who we are is with the jackhammer of their jawboning and the resulting discourse.
On Capitol Hill, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) won’t stop talking, and the more he denies that his words have racist intent, the more they sound choked with a racism intent on silencing others.
Johnson habitually spouts a bold opinion or nonfactual declaration into the universe, only to have the universe voice its displeasure. And then he appears dismayed that anyone could possibly have had a negative interpretation of his words.
Givhan’s recommendation here – that one should let men like Johnson keep talking – is both right and practical.
On the practical side: how far will Johnson go with his false racial declarations? One can contend that Johnson is variously (in any combination) a crackpot, compromised, or politically ambitious, but he could be any or all of those traits without being a racist.
Johnson’s approach toward the boundary of racism looks like something different from those three possibilities, but reminiscent of some middle-aged men who falsely imagine they’ve a ‘racial truth’ to share (however supposedly hard for the world to hear).
In this respect, Johnson may be like John Derbyshire, who inched toward racism, then embraced it fully, before National Review finally, belatedly showed him the door. (Derbyshire, an Englishman, now writes for VDARE, an avowedly nationalist website.)
If this were another instance of one private man gone bigoted, it would be an individual transgression against truth. As Johnson is a public man representing Wisconsin before the United States Senate, he’s an albatross round the necks of millions of men and women who deserve far better representation.
And yet, the more Johnson talks, the more we’ll know.