This Local Candidate Loves Posting Racist Facebook Memes, And He's Not Alone

October 1st 2016

Mike Rothschild

As political candidates go, Dan Johnson is about as off-the-radar as they come.

The Kentucky Republican is running for the State House of Representatives in the sparsely populated 49th District, against an incumbent Democrat who got 6,600 votes in 2014. He didn’t even win a primary to get where he is, instead being drafted in July after both Republican candidates dropped out, according to WDRB.com.

It would seem like there’s no real reason to talk about Dan Johnson at all, except that Dan Johnson really, really loves posting racist memes on his Facebook page.

Here’s one meme Johnson posted on September 27th, extolling his followers to “demand their state ban Islam” – which would be a pretty egregious violation of the First Amendment:

Here’s another, this one from 2015, declaring that Islam sucks and threatening “Hadjis” with death if they step on his lawn:

Racist Meme from Dan Johnson

Then there was the meme depicting Barack and Michelle Obama as chimps, which Facebook deleted soon after it was posted.

Dan Johnson Racist Obama Meme

The rest of Johnson’s page is a mix of conspiracy theories, memes glorifying the Confederacy, and pictures of the guns and patriotism-glorifying Heart of Fire Church, where he’s a pastor.

While Johnson has subsequently deleted many of the most offensive images, he makes no apologies for them – nor does he consider himself a racist. In an interview with local station WDRB, Johnson proudly proclaimed “I love America. I love people. I believe red, yellow, black and white, all are precious in God’s sight. I’m not a racist.”

Johnson further claims that the fault rests not with him for sharing the posts, but with the audience for understanding that they’re jokes. “It wasn’t meant to be racist. I can tell you that. My history’s good there. I wasn’t trying to offend anybody, but, I think Facebook’s entertaining.”

In a later interview with the AP, Johnson went even further, and claimed “I really don’t think I’ve done anything as someone to be a racist [sic].” But locals weren’t buying it, and even the state GOP chair has condemned Johnson, offering an apology to Kentucky’s black community.

Johnson isn't the only candidate to use social media to share racial rhetoric.

While it would be easy to write Dan Johnson off as a small-time preacher using a futile dip into politics (indeed, his campaign has received no donations) as a platform for his personal racism, he’s far from the only one. The political climate of 2016, led by Donald Trump’s exhortations to “build the wall” and ban Muslim immigration, has brought racist local politicians out of the sewers all across the country. And thanks to social media, their reach is longer than ever.

The litany of stories is seemingly endless. Just days after Johnson’s most recent racist meme, the mayor of West York, Pennsylvania, Charles Wasko faced calls to resign after posting a meme showing Clint Eastwood and a noose, with a caption reading “Barry, this rope is for you. You wanna bring that empty chair over here!” As a response, Wasko wrote off racist memes he’d posted as “saying what people think.”

Robert Wasko Racist Meme

Meanwhile, North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger had to admit he “came off as arrogant and racist” after declaring in a BBC interview that the rioting African-Americans in Charlotte “hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.”

And a Douglass County, Georgia, commissioner is being pressured to resign after declaring in leaked comments that African-Americans aren’t qualified to serve in government, and will “bankrupt” any jurisdiction they serve. And back in June, Tennessee congressional candidate Rick Tyler was forced to take down a billboard he bought vowing to “Make America White Again” – which he refused to apologize for.

While Donald Trump's racially incendiary comments about blacks, Muslims, and Latinos have prompted accusations that represents a dangerous development for American politics, the statements of Johnson and others of his ilk suggest that Trump is not as exceptional as he seems.