Cynthia Johnson is a Democratic member of the Michigan House of Representatives. In a video earlier this week (see below), she made this threat:
So this is just a warning to you Trumpers. Be careful. Walk lightly. We ain’t playing with you. Enough of the shenanigans. Enough is enough.
And for those of you who are soldiers, you know how to do it. Do it right. Be in order. Make them pay. I love y’all.
Her statement is a clear incitement to violence against “Trumpers.” It reminds me of the Black Panthers, except those thugs weren’t elected officials.
Johnson’s fellow Michigan Democrats condemned her statement, and Johnson has been stripped of all committee assignments.
However, Johnson’s defenders suggest that she was only talking about hitting “Trumpers” in the pocketbook. It’s true that she mentions that. But the phrases “we ain’t playing with you” and “those of you who are soldiers” undermine the “pocketbook” defense. Even Johnson’s fellow Dem legislators aren’t buying it.
Johnson’s defenders also say she received death threats. I don’t doubt it. Anyone who brings it strong to the public debate in this era is liable to get such threats. Even I received a few during the contentious days of George W. Bush’s presidency.
The receipt of death threats does not excuse a public official who incites violence against political opponents. However, I suspect that, when all is said and done, it will be treated as a partial excuse. Authorities will “walk lightly,” to use Johnson’s phrase.
How widely shared are Johnson’s views on how to deal with “Trumpers”? Widely enough to produce riots and physical attacks on peaceful demonstrators. With these views now being espoused by an elected official, we can expect them to spread.
Arguably, the U.S. is in a “cold civil war.” There are those who would prefer a hot one. Cynthia Johnson seems to be one of them.
UPDATE: Already, Michigan’s authoritarian governor is “walking lightly.” Gretchen Whitmer says it was an overreaction to strip Johnson of her committee assignments.
Whitmer insists that Johnson has “been through a lot” and has had a loved one in the hospital. So now, apparently, there’s now a “been through a lot” defense to inciting violence against political opponents — when a Democrat is doing the inciting.
I doubt the defense applies to business owners on the verge of bankruptcy who fail to comply with Whitmer’s draconian lockdown orders.