Greensboro's African American Community Newspaper since 1967

A Segregationist in the House


Many are rejoicing that Republicans finally got around to electing a speaker, thus breaking the logjam that began when Trump acolyte Matt Goetz (R-FL) introduced legislation to eliminate Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). In selecting Louisiana’s Mike Johnson, Republicans chose a self-avowed “evangelical Southern Christian” (read racist segregationist) who is anti-choice, anti-gay rights (and marriage), and anti-education. Johnson is an affable segregationist who has made few enemies in his scant four terms in Congress.

The media keeps describing him as “unknown.” Still, while he is a Congressman who does not stand out in a crowd, he is hardly unknown to the Republican inner circle who followed his lead when he opposed counting the electoral votes that chose President Joe Biden. House Republicans didn’t just vote for an affable unknown; they voted for a segregationist election denier who is in close touch with the former President. So, those who say they want a post-Trump Republican Party are not telling the truth. These Republicans want a House speaker who is Trump without the vitriol but a segregationist nonetheless. They are so eager to have this election denier at their helm because many of them are closet election deniers. And in embracing this election denier, they are rejecting the Constitution and the role of law in our politics.

They want to win at any cost, even if it means that they embrace segregation. I’m not surprised. These are the people who want to go back to the “good old days” when Black people stayed in our place, women remained in the kitchen, gay folks were invisible, and abortion was unheard of. Are there any moderate Republicans? Are there any unafraid of the despotic former President?

Congressman Johnson’s career has been marked by his assertive willingness to take away the rights of others, all done with the smile that contributes to his reputation for friendliness. So, he would impose a national ban on abortion. He would disallow gay people from having sex in their own homes. He describes gay marriage as “deviant,” but he does it with a smile. He doesn’t raise his voice or shake his fist. He simply works to take away other people’s rights.

Johnson’s views on women and abortion are especially troubling. He says women need to have more children, and outlawing abortion will make that happen. For him, I suppose, women are nothing more than breed cows designed to populate the labor force whether we want to or not. He adheres to the “great replacement theory” that Democrats are encouraging immigration to replace “American” voters with immigrants. He has referred to nonexistent “open borders” in his speeches, following the Trump playbook of inciting resistance against immigrant people.

Johnson has never been a fiery rhetorician. For the most part, he stays behind the scenes. And he knows that, as a speaker, he can’t spout off extremist positions. So, when asked about marriage equality, Mike Johnson says it is the law of the land, and he will do nothing to attempt to reverse it. Roe v. Wade was also the law of the land. Then came Dobbs, with the three most recent Supreme Court Justices – Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Comey-Barrett all swore under oath that they would “uphold the law of the land” and would not nullify Roe. But they did it in the Dobbs case when they got an opening. I will not be surprised if, given new Congressional conservative leadership, they support the same thing in this Supreme Court.

There are many regressive legislative possibilities on the table for a segregationist like Mike Johnson. He has already indicated that he will proceed with a Biden impeachment inquiry. He is likely to support anything that undermines affirmative action both in higher education and in the workplace, with the encouragement of deep pockets racists. Alarmingly, Johnson has been described by Alex Johnson, Executive Director of Social Security Works, as “an enemy of Social Security.” If the House Speaker had his way, he would raise the retirement age, lower the cost of living increases, and privatize Social Security. And Republican legislators would likely go along with it, even though they represent Social Security recipients, to embrace a Trump-driven segregationist agenda.

Some describe Mike Johnson’s rise to the speakership as the accidental elevation of a relative unknown. I say it was planned. Look at his record. Look at his statements. And understand that the fight for economic and social justice is “on” with the segregationist leader in the House.

Julianne Malveaux is an author, economist and a former president of Bennett College.