If you’re of a religious persuasion, Marjorie Taylor Greene is the reason you should be thanking your god for the existence of the Atlantic Ocean. For the rest of us, it’s our lucky stars or maybe plate tectonics.
The latest craziness to emerge from American journalists’ investigations of the far-right, conspiracy-mongering representative from Georgia’s past statements is frankly beggars believe.
This conspiracy reckons California wildfires were caused not by the hot, dry weather conditions that are a consequence of climate change. Nope, it was a Jewish space laser.
Actually, if you read her Facebook post from just a couple of years back (investigative reporter Justin Gray put a screenshot up on his Twitter feed) it’s a bit more involved than that. It links the space lasers to the Rothschild banking family, who antisemites have long claimed are trying to control the world, a California power company and governor Jerry Brown. But I think a Jewish space laser is an acceptable shorthand for what she said.
Now, these sort of statements from a woman at the heart of the government of the most powerful nation on earth have sparked an intense discussion of what Taylor Greene’s prominent position means for the future of the Republican Party in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Out of those discussions has come the claim that Taylor Greene is an outlier, a fringe figure who’s not representative of the party as a whole “no more than is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a representative of the Democrats”.
Yes, American media commentators have actually been suggesting that the two are equivalent. Two sides of the same coin, if you like.
I first heard this one on a YouTube clip of The View, a discussion show aired by the broadcaster ABC, that was uploaded last week. The programme features a panel of women of varying political hues discussing the day’s hot button issues. Whoopi Goldberg appears as does Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late John, Arizona senator, former Republican presidential candidate and fierce Trump opponent.
The four panellists all agreed that Taylor Greene was “cuckoo” and a “whack job”. Which is an objective fact (see the above discussion of space lasers).
McCain then went on to complain that she was nothing like Taylor Greene and nor were any of her Republican friends.
Goldberg responded: “It’s what people used to say about AOC, remember we would say AOC does not represent the whole party. Now you all are getting slapped with the same kind of big paint brush.”
Wait, what? I confess that at that point I nearly spilled the Coke Light I was drinking all over my Independent-issued laptop.
Sure it’s true that Republicans did try and paint the Democratic Party as AOC’s.
But to imply that she’s as extreme as Taylor Greene, just on the left is, well, cuckoo.
Compare and contrast. In the case of GOP congresswoman you have someone who, in addition to those lasers, has called for violence against Democrats, previously supported the bonkers QAnon conspiracy theory, claimed school shootings were "false flag" operations and harassed survivors, indulged the baseless claim that the US election was “stolen” from Trump.
On the left, AOC has advocated universal health care, a $15 (£11) minimum wage and a green new deal. Passionately, sure. But those moderates drawing an entirely false equivalence between the two might like to look across the Atlantic.
Britain, which is still saddled with its own regressive, falsehood peddling, right wing government led by a narcissist, nonetheless has, that’s right, universal health care. As does much of the Europe in some form or another.
The UK was, prior to Covid-19, inching its way towards a $15 (£11) minimum wage until the government, at the urgings of US funded right wing think tanks, applied the brakes. It has also been making a big fuss about its green plans.
Sure, the centre of gravity in this country, and in much of Europe, is in a different place to where it is in the US. There are Christian Democrats on the continent who aren’t far removed from where AOC is.
But the point is that the policies she advocates are far from extreme. Nor are her other positions such as calling for LGBTQ equality or higher taxes on the rich.
Yet it isn’t just the panellists on The View that have sought to draw false equivalences between her and Taylor Greene. The idea has been taking hold across the US media. She’s even been given her own three-letter acronym, MTG.
There’s an added wrinkle to all this. AOC this morning revealed that she is a survivor of sexual assault. It’s all but impossible for me to imagine how she must have felt as a baying mob calling for her death descended on the US capitol.
Needless to say, that mob was incited by the words of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s hero Donald Trump and their extreme friends.
To liken the two politicians is grotesque and deeply offensive. They don’t live on the same planet. AOC peacefully advocates progressive policies from the earth. Majorie Taylor Greene lives in orbit shooting space lasers.
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