A black historian and author said Monday during an appearance on CNN that comments made last week by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) that he’d have only be scared if the Capitol rioters who attacked Congress on Jan. 6 had been members of Black Lives Matter or Antifa is just as offensive as former President Donald Trump urging members of extreme right-wing group Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” and should be condemned as blatantly “racist” and “chilling.”

Historian Jemar Tisby was asked by CNN host John Berman:

“What did it feel like to feel that spoken out loud by a U.S. senator?”

Tisby replied:

“It’s absolutely chilling. Because there are multiple messages here. So we focused on the racist part. But what is Ron Johnson saying to these white supremacists, extremists willing to break into the Capitol to get their way based on a conspiracy theory about election fraud. It says, to me, the echoes of the ‘stand by and stand back’ comment. It’s a wink and a nod to these forces that says, whatever you do, you will not face strong repercussions, at least from politicians like Johnson and those who agree with him. And then it’s chilling because it opens up the pathway for more incidents like we saw on January 6th.

Berman noted:

“He said, out loud, that he saw them as people who love this country. I mean, if that’s not a permission structure, I don’t know what is.”

To that, Tisby remarked:

“Exactly right. I’m not sure that we understand, as everyday Americans, the critical juncture we are at. We are at a crossroads between a multi-racial democracy that attempts to live up to the aspirations of the foundational documents, or an autocratic, authoritarian-style governance that works for a very, very few wealthy and mostly white people. We need to act with urgency right now.”

We most certainly do need to act. If we don’t, Johnson and the GOP will continue to legislate racist, divisive policies just so they can try and cling to power.

Featured Image Via Gage Skidmore for Flickr