Steve Scroggins is a volunteer contributor to the Georgia
Heritage Coalition who lives in Macon.
Eric Johnson: Brazen Hypocrite and Political Opportunist
Many of you will recall the incident several years ago in which members of the New York state legislature pulled down the Georgia flag from their capitol because, they said, it was a “symbol of hate.” Members of the Georgia legislature responded in kind. Many of you will remember this photograph of Senator Eric Johnson standing out on the ledge over the Capitol rotunda as they removed the state flag of New York in retaliation.
It was grand theatre. It got national attention. It underscores just how much of a brazen hypocrite and political opportunist we have in Eric Johnson.
Senator Johnson was one of the first leaders from either party to openly oppose the FAIR VOTE bill that we proposed this year. He was quoted as saying, “It won’t come out of committee.” We didn’t know at the time, but the leaders of both parties had called in all the likely supporters of our bill and threatened them with all manner of nasty things if they signed on as a top-line sponsor for the Fair Vote bill or anything similar.
So, we have Eric Johnson and few other House and Senate leaders from both parties to thank for our inability to gain a top-line sponsor for the Fair Vote bill. This commentary is just a small part of our special “thank you” to Senator Johnson. Others will be spreading “Evict Eric” signs all over his new Senate district. Thousands of bumper stickers are also on order. He’ll have special greeters whenever he appears in public.
Johnson, like a few others in his party, rode the Flag issue into power. You’ll recall that Democrats controlled the House, the Senate and the Governor’s mansion in 2001. In those days, Johnson spoke like a true statesman, pretending to support a Fair Vote all the way, pretending to believe the People should have a true voice in the flag choice. His performance should have won an award (like an Oscar). We can only appreciate the skill of his acting now that we see it was an act.
To my way of thinking, this turncoat backstabbing behavior is worse than that of a professed enemy. Many southerners despise Tyrone Brooks for his distortions and despicable lies denouncing our Southern heritage, our ancestors and our flag. But at least we can respect him for his relentless tenacity and continual fight against the odds. We know where he stands.
Johnson, on the other hand, is a low-down, backstabbing liar. He’s the lowest of the low. A traitor is worse than an avowed enemy. He has willfully violated a trust. Johnson will pay a dear price for his treachery.
If you can stomach it, read Johnson’s speech below. It was delivered to the Georgia Senate in late January 2001. Perhaps Johnson was sincere is his dislike for Democrat dirty tricks. Maybe he likes arrogance and intimidation only when his party is dishing it out. The reason we publish it here it that it’s one of the most accurate descriptions of what really happened. Extortion, bribery, intimidation, it is a really ugly, really nasty, part of our legislative history.
The people responded November 5, 2002. Governor Roy Barnes and longtime Speaker of the House Tom Murphy paid the price for their arrogance. They were toppled from power along with others for their arrogant affront to the people.
Everyone in the state knew why Barnes was defeated. Then Perdue, Johnson and others had the gall to do the same thing in 2003. Their nerve is amazing.
Johnson denounced Barnes’ efforts to push a flag “out of nowhere” down our throats in 2001. In 2002, the people booted Barnes for his treachery. So what does the new party in power do? They pull another flag “out of nowhere” and cram it down our throats in 2003. With apologies to Yogi Bera, it was like “déjà vu all over again.”
See Johnson’s last paragraph. “And let the people of Georgia participate in the decision….That would be the right thing to do.” Indeed, Senator. We laid the Fair Vote bill in front of you in 2004---we had the pledged votes to pass it in the Senate. Using intimidation, you went out of your way to squash the Fair Vote bill and deny Georgians a true voice. Why? Political brownie points? Chamber campaign cash?
Whether you like it not, Senator, we the people will ultimately participate in the decision you made. We will participate in ejecting you from office because-----given your lying and backstabbing ways----it would be the right thing to do.
Note: Senator Johnson remains proud of this speech; it remains posted on his website. Is that IN YOUR FACE, or what?
Eric Johnson's Website
Published Tuesday, January 30, 2001
NOT THIS FLAG. NOT THIS WAY.
Senate Republican Leader Eric Johnson's Floor Statement
I am a child of the south and a child of the civil rights movement. I love our flag. To me, it represents everything good about the south. To others, it represents history and heritage. But I understand that some do not share these views and see racism and hate in the same flag. Two people can look at the same flag and see two different things. That doesn't mean that good Georgians who want to keep the flag are racists.
We should be careful not to impugn anybody's racial motives. A 'YES' vote will not end racism and a 'NO' vote does not condone it!
I am a child of the Grand Old Party and a leader in the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan. The new administration of President George W. Bush is the most inclusive Republican administration in history - both in his cabinet and in his agenda.
This is NOT a partisan issue.
There are Republicans and Democrats on both sides of this issue.
Most importantly, I am a child of God. We've been asked over and over to 'do the right thing'. Was eliminating prayer in school and removing the Ten Commandments from our courtrooms 'the right thing to do'? The inclusion of 'In God We Trust' on the new flag offends many, should we remove it then?
Good Christians will vote their convictions.
God is their judge, not us.
No, the issue before us today is simply whether the people of Georgia, through their elected representatives, want to change the present flag in order to have a public symbol of our great state that is more acceptable and unifying to as many Georgians as possible.
If it is inevitable that this state consider changing the flag behind my left shoulder, then we must pursue a two step process.
First, should we change the flag?
And, if the answer is 'yes', what should it look like?
Georgians are close to a consensus that the present flag, because of abuse by certain groups on BOTH sides of this debate, should be changed. As a caller said, if you love the confederate battle flag, why would you want to subject it to the scorn it now faces?
The Governor says 'do the right thing'.
Is it the 'right thing' to have a new flag come out of nowhere and be rammed down our throats!
This so-called 'compromise' was a unilateral negotiation involving only the Governor, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Representative Tyrone Brooks - people with a gun to the head of Georgia.
To come up with a unifying flag, the dialogue needs to include the people of Georgia or their elected representatives. We can include them by creating a Flag Commission or letting the people vote. We have been flying this flag for 45 years. Gov. Barnes has been talking to the Reverend Jackson for a year. Can we give the people of Georgia a little time? Churches and people of faith are beginning to get involved. Children are talking to their parents and teachers about Georgia history - the good and the bad - honestly. Georgians are now engaged.
If anybody can do this, Georgia can.
But this is not the right way to do it.
Let's review the process that brings us here today:
For a whole year, a secret, backroom negotiation has been going on between the Governor and a few liberal activists. They select a flag. Then just 24 hours before letting the state know, there is a Tuesday evening meeting with - according to press reports - a few business leaders, the Speaker and the Lt. Governor at the governor's mansion. They are presented with the flag and told that the vote will be the next day. At 7:30 on Wednesday morning, the House leadership gets the word. At 8 AM, the lobbyists are hauled into the Governor's office and told how much this means to the Governor.
(So the business leaders and lobbyists find out about the flag before the people's elected representatives!)The word begins to spread like wildfire. At 9 o'clock, the House Rules Committee meets. The flag is presented and passed with no debate or testimony.
At 10 AM, the House convenes. At 11, the Governor speaks and accuses flag supporters of racism. At 2 PM, the vote is taken and the new flag is passed by just 3 votes. Wow! It made your head spin. Even veterans were impressed.
The plan had been to move the new flag to the Senate immediately and have the Senate vote on it in a special Saturday session before - and this is crucial - before the Senate could go home to their districts and - God forbid - listen to Georgians who are going to live with this banner for a long time. But the House made a rare mistake. With a quick catch by the new House Minority Leader, the bill was delayed for 24 hours, forcing the Senate to wait until today for the vote.
So just 6 days after the new flag is rolled out, the Senate is set to adopt a permanent public symbol of the State of Georgia.
I called it a 'surprise attack'. One of the Governor's staff said, 'No, it was strategy.'I said, 'Yea. That's what the Japanese said!'
Why is this wrong?
One: Because we must end up with a flag that unites the citizens of Georgia. A secret deal, a surprise attack, and a three vote win in the House are not a sign that we are creating a flag that will offer more unity than the present one.
Two: We could be, inadvertently, making matters worse. We can't afford to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. Consider South Carolina - they reached what they thought was a compromise and they are still under a NAACP boycott and hosting protest rallies. What assurance do we have that this new flag - which still contains the battle flag - will represent a 'debt paid in full'? Martin Luther King, III said on TV that this was a 'good first step'. What does that mean?
Three: the people's voices are being drowned out by money and political insiders. Senators and Representatives are being subjected to the most vicious, focused political effort in the history of this legislature! And no telling what this vote cost the people of Georgia in tax dollars! Between what the lobbyists are owed and what projects and programs have been promised, somebody is going to pay!
First we had economic extortion and a threat of a boycott. Now we have a well-financed and coordinated effort of political extortion.
Senators' employers were called.
Spouses' employers were called.
Clients were contacted.
Judges leaned on lawyer Senators.
Judgeships are being dangled.
Projects were promised.
And bills were bought and sold.
Nobody has ever seen anything like it.
I can vote for a change. So can the people of Georgia.
The Governor's battle cry is 'do the right thing'.
But this is NOT the right thing to do!
Was it right to negotiate with non-Georgians in secret?
Was it right to launch a surprise attack on the people's House?
Is it right to ram this thing down our throats?
Is it right to ignore the people of Georgia?
Of course not.
This is the wrong way. This is the wrong flag.
Create a flag Commission. Set a date certain.
And let the people of Georgia participate in the decision.
That would be the right thing to do!
For More Information Contact:
is Adjutant of the Lt. James T. Woodward Camp 1399, Sons of Confederate
Veterans, in Warner Robins, GA and a frequent GHC contributor of parody
and political cartoons and graphics.
Metromucil Helps Senator Johnson on sewer decision
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