I covered Rep. Sam Johnson [R-Texas] when he first ran for Congress in 1991. He was so "honest" that he didn’t even live in the district – he just rented an apartment in the district to run.
That was technically legal, but many raised questions about him using a loophole to run. I was one of the few reporters to write about that at the time, but it didn’t stop Johnson from winning the election.
Now, Johnson wants to kill everyone in Syria in one nuclear swoop, just because he has some unproven notion that weapons of mass destruction are being hidden there. That would include the relatives of my kids – who are part Syrian. Not to mention, the nuke would probably take out much of the Middle East, including Israel. And it would affect weather patterns and cause cancer in surrounding areas for years, if not decades.
His chief of staff says Johnson doesn’t really want to nuke Syria, but I don’t buy that. He has said this at least twice, including to a public gathering in a speech in a church, no less, on Feb. 19, and privately to Bush himself at the White House. Remember what Bush once tried to say: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame won’t get fooled again."
What’s also sad is that many in the audience at the church applauded right after Johnson said he wants to nuke Syria. In fact, "the crowd roared with applause," according to a report in the non-partisan Roll Call publication that covers Capitol Hill.
Here is the item with more details from Roll Call:
Now we know where Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) thinks the weapons of mass destruction are buried: in Syria, which he said he’d like to nuke to smithereens.
Speaking at a veterans’ celebration at Suncreek United Methodist Church in Allen, Texas, on Feb. 19, Johnson told the crowd that he explained his theory to President Bush and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) on the porch of the White House one night. Johnson said he told the president that night, "Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on ’em and I’ll make one pass. We won’t have to worry about Syria anymore."
The crowd roared with applause.
Johnson’s remarks were captured on tape, which was played over the phone for [Heard on the Hill]. While the audience audibly applauded Johnson’s remarks, a few members of the crowd did not. One person who lives in the district and who attended the service said he was "shocked and offended" by the Congressman’s remarks.
Johnson’s chief of staff, Cody Lusk, told HOH to keep in mind that the Congressman was a fighter pilot in Korea and Vietnam. And he was a POW for seven-and-a-half years. "Once a fighter pilot, always a fighter pilot," Lusk said.
He added that, the Congressman’s comments aside, Johnson "obviously does not believe" that nuking Syria is the answer to eliminating weapons of mass destruction. "He was just speaking to a crowd of veterans," Lusk said.
What this Congressman said was worse than even conservative serial-killing artist Ann Coulter saying, ""We need to execute people like John Walker [the American Taliban] in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise they will turn out to be outright traitors."
It was worse than what conservative writer John Derbyshire penned, when he more than hinted that Chelsea Clinton should be killed as an "enemy of the state".
Johnson, a member of Congress with great power who is invited to semi-private functions with Bush in the White House, at least twice called for murdering hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent people just because he THINKS that country MIGHT be hiding those weapons of mass destruction that our leaders LIED about to cajole us into a stupid invasion of Iraq.
No liberal politician or writer I know has come so close to publicly calling for the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people or of Bush’s daughters or of conservatives in general.
Some conservatives, like Shawn Macomber, have tried to say liberals want to kill conservatives. Macomber wrote in a "review" of the dark comedy "The Last Supper" in the American Spectator last fall that the movie was an "anthem" of the "left protest movement." He tried to use this fictional movie to make a point that liberals supported killing conservatives.
But besides getting several facts of the movie wrong, such as how the Limbaugh conservative got the last laugh by turning the tables on the liberals, Macomber missed the point of the movie. The satire points out how any system from any side can go corrupt and warns of totalitarianism and taking things too far, from either the right or the left.
When I sent out Johnson’s "nuke Syria" statement to various friends, family members, media outlets and more, one conservative family member wrote back, accusing me of being "biased" against Republicans. That’s as if he was not biased against Democrats when he mostly got his news by reading Free Nazi Republic, a site that won’t allow Americans like me to present a different viewpoint. I wrote back saying I admitted to being biased against fascist nazi right-wingers who are turning this country into the nazi Germany of the modern era. And I won’t stop being biased against them because I think they are dangerous and so wrong that the only thing true patriotic Americans can do is oppose them.
My conservative family member ended by saying he was "sure that any well-educated person would not want to ‘nuke’ any body."
My response: "And when you mention well-educated people not wanting to ‘nuke’ anybody, you overlook how we did just that in 1945. And we are supposedly educated in this country, though that is debatable."
JACKSON THOREAU is a Washington, D.C.-area journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.