A congressional Democrat who previously referred to Israeli Jews as “termites” declared on Friday that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was too polarizing to be president. At a Congressional Black Caucus press conference on Friday afternoon, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) attacked Trump over his previous demands to see President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and said that Trump “continues to stoke the fires of polarization.”
GA Dem Rep Hank Johnson says Trump "stoked & parlayed" the birther issue. "He continues to stoke the fires of polarization."
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) September 16, 2016
This is the same Hank Johnson who recently compared Jews who were living peacefully in Israel to “termites.”
“There has been a steady [stream], almost like termites can get into a residence and eat before you know that you’ve been eaten up and you fall in on yourself,” he said of Jewish Israeli settlers.
The Anti-Defamation League excoriated Johnson for his comments, noting that Johnson’s statement perpetuated the “demonization, dehumanization of settlers.” Likening Jews to insects is nothing new, of course, as Rabbi David Wolpe noted in TIME:
These are not trivial issues. We are a half century away from millions of human beings who were designated as “vermin” and killed. When people say the Nazis “exterminated” Jews they unwittingly appropriate this insect metaphor. To call Jews “termites” is base and vile.
Despite media reports to the contrary, Johnson, who beat out fellow Jew-hater Cynthia McKinney in 2006 for the Democratic nomination for the local congressional seat, never apologized. He maintained that he had used a “poor choice of words – apologies for offense,” which is that cowardly thing people who don’t really want to apologize always say. It wasn’t much of a story because there is a double standard employed in political discourse that allows Democrats to get away these sorts of things. What kind of coverage would a Republican congressman (rightly) get if he referred to Mexican immigrants as “termites?”
Now, in Johnson’s defense, he’s a complete nitwit.
In the Washingtonian’s 15th biennial of “Best & Worst of Congress” list, Johnson was voted “Worst Speaker” and “Most Clueless” by other congressional staffers.
Johnson also gifted America with one of the greatest moments in C-SPAN history: a moment that would make any intelligent person question their faith in representative democracy.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee hearing, Johnson told Admiral Robert F. Willard, the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, that “my fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.”
Willard showed the composure of a great military commander, calmly replying, “We don’t anticipate that.”