During an appearance on Fox News, Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson blamed "liberal indoctrination" for school shootings, suggesting the United States has "stopped teaching values."
Johnson, who issued his remarks in the wake of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, went on to claim school shootings happen because schools are "teaching wokeness," suggesting progressive ideals are at fault for the murders of 19 children and two teachers.
Johnson evoked another conservative bogeyman in his remarks, namely critical race theory, a body of legal and academic scholarship that aims to examine how racism and disparate racial outcomes have shaped public policy via often implicit social and institutional dynamics.
You can hear what he said in the video below.
None of Johnson's claims made any logical sense, and they soon caught the attention of VoteVets, a political action committee (PAC) and 501(c)(4) nonprofit military veterans organization that promotes progressive solutions to issues like housing, hunger and healthcare and is dedicated to electing veterans to public office.
VoteVets criticized Johnson for suggesting "teaching American history and embracing diversity" is responsible for gun violence.
The organization pointed out "the glaringly obvious"—namely "the only thing that will reduce gun violence is by decreasing access to weapons of war."
False claims schools have been teaching critical race theory to young children has inflamed hostilities among the right-wing, particularly since the publication of The 1619 Project, which repositions the consequences and legacy of slavery as elements vital to the historical narrative.
Although critical race theory is just one branch of an incredibly varied arena of academic scholarship, it has nonetheless served as a flashpoint among the far-right amid a campaign by Republicans to energize conservative voters, particularly in school board elections.
Johnson's comments exposed him to significant criticism online.
Johnson has a long record of opposing comprehensive gun control measures.
In 2013, Johnson sponsored a bill to prohibit the Department of Justice (DOJ) from tracking and cataloging the purchases of multiple rifles and shotguns.
That same year, he was one of 12 Republican Senators to sign a letter threatening to filibuster any newly introduced gun control legislation.
According to publicly available information from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a nonprofit organization that advocates for gun control and against gun violence, Johnson has accepted $1,269,486 from the National Rifle Association (NRA), which routinely stymies efforts to address gun violence.