Skip to content

House Speaker Mike Johnson Stages Confrontation at Columbia University

April 25, 2024 (EIRNS)—House Speaker Mike Johnson, after risking his political career pushing through the $95 billion militarization package, travelled to New York City yesterday to stage a confrontation for the cameras at Columbia University. He gave a press conference, open to the demonstrators, who frequently booed him. During the Q&A, a coordinated chant of “Mike, you suck” erupted from the crowd.

Afterwards, when CNN’s Erin Burnett asked him why he came to the university campus and inserted himself into the confrontations, he replied that it was because the “Speaker speaks for the House of Representatives. I felt it was very important for that voice to be heard, not just about what happens in Columbia, but about what is happening right now around the country. We have to stand unequivocally for the right and the good, and I’m calling on all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to speak out against this, not to endorse it, not to coddle these people, but to say this has to stop.”

When pressed about the unpopularity of his position with the crowd, he noted that he was “not surprised that they didn’t welcome our visit, because we’re calling out their activities.” However, he actually was actually calling out to stamp out the anti-genocide demonstration. He explained: “We met briefly with the president [of Columbia] and her top officials right before we came out on the steps here. We encouraged her to take immediate action and stamp this out, and our feeling is that they have not acted to restore order on the campus.”

Next, he announced that he would call President Joe Biden to raise the matter of calling in the National Guard: “My intention is to call President Biden after we leave here and share with him what we have seen with our own two eyes and demand that he take action. There is executive authority that would be appropriate. If this is not contained quickly, and if these threats and intimidation are not stopped, there is an appropriate time for the National Guard. We have to bring order to these campuses.”

The performance already elicited the desired response from his targeted audience, of Republicans who have thought Johnson had sold them out. For example, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) wrote on X: “I’ve had my strong disagreements on spending / foreign aid—but I applaud @SpeakerJohnson for going to Columbia.” Apparently, for some defenders of democracy in the U.S. Congress, stamping out peaceful demonstrations takes precedence over stopping the militarization of the world. In Israel, Netanyahu is betting that he can keep surfing the waves of strife and discord, and Johnson may calculate that such a path is his best chance to hold onto power.