Democrats’ big gamble on Marjorie Taylor Greene may set dangerous precedent

'If any of our members threatened the safety of other members we'd be the first ones to take them off a committee,' Pelosi says

Marjorie Taylor Greene says she is 'very regular American' ahead of House removal vote

As Democrats ploughed ahead on Thursday, stripping Georgia GOP Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments, Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated forcefully that she felt zero apprehension about what kind of precedent was being set.

"No, not at all. Not at all. If any of our members threatened the safety of other members we'd be the first ones to take them off a committee. That's it," she said.

But could Ms Pelosi be placing her trust in the wrong hands?

By taking a mostly party-line vote to boot Ms Green from her committee seats, Democrats are putting their own future on committees at the mercy of future House GOP majorities (which are likely to include more Marjorie Taylor Greenes) showing restraint from using Thursday's vote as a pretext to abuse and penalise Democrats for far less serious transgressions.

House Republicans – from top leaders on down to members on the farthest end of the back bench – have already demonstrated how the Democrats' decision to move forward with Thursday's resolution sidelining Ms Greene could open a Pandora's box of retribution in the future.

In his statement on Wednesday, purportedly condemning Ms Greene for her history of bigoted, threatening, and conspiracy-mongering behaviour, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy played the whataboutism card, drawing false equivalence between Ms Greene’s behaviour – for which she has never publicly apologised – and the past controversial comments and actions of various Democratic House members.

“While Democrats pursue a resolution on Congresswoman Greene, they continue to do nothing about Democrats serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee who have spread antisemitic tropes, Democrats on the House Intelligence and Homeland Security Committee compromised by Chinese spies, or the Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee who advocated for violence against public servants," Mr McCarthy said.

There are a litany of reasons why Ms Greene's past behaviour is not remotely comparable to the past controversies involving Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Congressman Eric Swalwell, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the three Democratic lawmakers to whom Mr McCarthy's statement (which, it should be noted, dishonestly characterises at least two of those controversies) alludes.

The most fundamental difference is that none of those three Democratic members' social media accounts have ever endorsed executing the opposing party's leaders, as Ms Greene's did in 2018 and 2019, before she became a congressional candidate.

Ms Greene is the first member of Congress who has openly supported the QAnon conspiracy theory that Democrats and other elites are part of a Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic ring of paedophiles. She has a years-long history of bigoted remarks and espousing discredited conspiracy theories, including the debunked claim that the 2020 election was "stolen" from Donald Trump.

She has questioned whether a plane manned by terrorists struck the Pentagon on 9/11 and has been caught on video harassing high school shooting survivor David Hogg of Parkland, Florida, while calling the tragedy a false flag event.

“Past comments from and endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene on school shootings, political violence, and antisemitic conspiracy theories do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference,” Mr McCarthy said in his statement from Wednesday.

“I condemn [Ms Greene’s] comments unequivocally. I condemned them in the past. I continue to condemn them today. This House condemned QAnon last Congress and continues to do so today,” Mr McCarthy said.

But a sharp-tongued condemnation without actual teeth was not enough for Democrats, many of whom have said they feel threatened "from within" Congress by Ms Greene's presence.

"It's just so unfortunate. You would think that the Republican leadership in the Congress would have some sense of responsibility to this institution, as they did when they did not seat Representative [Steve] King of Iowa two years ago," Ms Pelosi said at her weekly press conference on Thursday.

In 2019, Mr McCarthy and the House Republican Steering Committee that oversees the party's committee assignments removed Mr King from his committees after he defended the term “white nationalism” in an interview with TheNew York Times that year.

Thursday's vote to remove Ms Greene has prompted a handful of the most conservative and conspiratorially minded Republicans to renew their calls for punitive measures against Democratic members of Congress who have made controversial remarks in the past.

Congressman Brian Babin of Texas had proposed an amendment to replace every mention of Ms Greene's name in Thursday's resolution with "Ilhan Omar", the Minnesota congresswoman who made multiple statements early in her first term in 2019 peddling antisemitic tropes.

That proposed amendment earned endorsements from fellow GOP Congressmen Jody Hice of Georgia, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Ronny Jackson of Texas – each of whom voted against the certification of Joe Biden's electoral victory last month citing disproven conspiracy theories about election fraud.

At the time of her controversy, Ms Omar apologised "unequivocally" for her comments, claiming ignorance of their historical roots in antisemitism.

“Antisemitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of antisemitic tropes,” Ms Omar said at the time. “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologise.”

The Minnesota congresswoman never advocated for violence against her political opponents, Democrats' chief concern with Ms Greene's past behaviour.

Ms Greene, on the other hand, has never apologised for bigoted remarks she has made against Ms Omar's religion.

Greene has previously proclaimed that there is an "Islamic invasion into our government offices right now".

After the 2018 midterms elections, when Ms Omar and Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib became the first two Muslim women in Congress, Ms Greene griped: "We saw so many Muslims elected ... [T]hey want to put their hand on the Qur'an and be sworn in? No."

Ms Greene has also said Muslims do "not belong in our government".

"Marjorie Taylor Greene has incited violence against her fellow Members of Congress, repeatedly singling out prominent women of colour," Ms Omar said earlier this week. "She ran a campaign ad holding an assault rifle next to my face ... It’s time to stop whitewashing the actions of the violent conspiracy theorists, who pose a direct and immediate threat to their fellow Members of Congress and our most fundamental democratic processes."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in