Analysis: Even the Holocaust is not out of bounds in Marjorie Taylor Greene’s age of outrage
For four years, party leaders have explained or permitted the racial, social and cultural demagoguery of former President Donald Trump. Their cowardice fueled the insurgency on Capitol Hill and an unprecedented attack on American democracy.
It took five days for leaders of the Republican House to respond to the assertion by Greene, a first-term Georgian congresswoman, that requiring people to wear masks in the event of a pandemic was comparable to the persecution of millions of Jews who were forced to wear cloth stars by the Nazis and later taken to extermination camps.
And when they reacted, the leaders’ statements – the same ones that forced Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney out of her leadership post because she had resisted Trump’s authoritarian extremism – were marred by political expediency.
House Minority Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who worked to rehabilitate Trump’s reputation after his attempted coup, released a statement saying ‘Marjorie was wrong’ and her comparison was ‘appalling’ .
“Let me be clear, the Republican House Conference condemns this language,” the California Republican said.
But the only reason it wasn’t clear was that McCarthy took so long to say it, probably reluctant to berate a Trump-backed lawmaker. Greene is also a new star in the conservative media and is loved by supporters of the former president who the GOP will need in the midterm elections.
Like his other fellow leaders, McCarthy turned his statement into a partisan attack, accusing Democrats of ignoring and promoting anti-Semitism. He then militarized the fight against this scourge by introducing a bill that attacked liberal Democrats like New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and accused their criticism of Israel of inciting violence against them. American Jews.
The conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas has drawn considerable criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government from Democrats. And it also sparked an alarming spike in hatred and attacks against some American Jews from California to New York to Florida. Sometimes in the past, criticism of Israel by prominent Democrats has crossed the finish line of anti-Semitism. Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, for example, was forced to apologize by party leaders for using anti-Semitic tropes about American supporters of Israel.
Dishonor the dead
Greene’s willingness to speak so casually about the Holocaust is the latest example of a tendency towards anhistorical analogy that often seeks to compare modern events to the most painful chapters in history.
Guardians of the Auschwitz memorial site in Poland also believed so.
“The instrumentalization of the tragedy of Jews who suffered, were humiliated, marked with a yellow star, isolated in ghettos and murdered during the Holocaust, in a debate over different systems to protect public health is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decline, ”the Auschwitz Memorial Twitter account posted on Tuesday.
Misinformed comparisons to Hitler’s murderous regime are not unique to Republicans. Sometimes under the Trump administration, left-wing activists compared the former president’s statements or actions with those of Hitler. While his presidency ended in a riot of anarchy and undemocratic violence, nothing he did came close to the vile inhumanity of the Nazis.
For decades, with WWII veterans alive and Holocaust survivors providing personal testimonies of past evils, offensive comments like Greene’s were harder to justify in public. But now that this generation is largely erased, the lessons of its experience of inhumanity risk being forgotten or underestimated.
The late Elie Wiesel, a human rights activist and survivor of the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, spoke of the obligation of future generations when he said that “whoever listens to a witness becomes a witness”.
Flippant and offhand references to the dishonor of the Holocaust.
Greene follows Trump’s playbook
In many ways, Greene’s behavior – after being stripped by a Democratic-led House of his powers on the committee for past anti-Semitic statements and forgiving violence against Democratic leaders – mirrors Trump.
She seems to choose the most inflammatory comment possible, designed to attract outrage and attention, and that causes a media storm – which she (and Trump) then turns around to suggest that she is the person being persecuted.
“The media and the Democrats and everyone who feeds into it allow them to hide the truth, which is disgusting anti-Semitism (sic) within the Democratic Party,” Greene said in a tweet Tuesday.
As is often the case with such controversies, his statement, which was actually another raging attack, contained an apology that was not an apology.
“Sorry, some of my words make people uncomfortable, but that’s what the American left means,” Greene wrote. The Georgian MP’s fiery brand reputation has made her a celebrity in conservative media – and one of her party’s most prolific fundraisers since arriving in Washington in January.
One would expect the likely next step in the latest Greene saga to feature pro-Trump media propagandists claiming that “mainstream” journalists are willingly interpreting his words, fueling new disinformation on biased news networks that have helped convince millions of Republicans that Trump’s lies about a stolen election are true.
Such whitewashing occurred when Trump said there were “very good people, on both sides” of a clash between white supremacists and anti-racist groups in Charlottesville, Va., In August 2017. And the price of Republicans excusing Trump-style extremism was stripped bare when the ex-president told the Proud Boys – whose members allegedly stormed the Capitol on January 6 – “to step back and be ready “during a presidential debate. Trump fans have denied that the former president ever offered the group legitimacy even though he made the commentary on live television.
In recent weeks, some Republican members of Congress have sought to deny the facts millions of Americans have seen on their television about his guilt in the Capitol uprising and Trump’s mob violence. Their denial led the party to turn against the idea of a bipartisan, independent inquiry into the Capitol Hill invasion and further cement a narrative that the GOP has turned against truth and democracy.
The transformation of a party that once stood for preserving these pillars of a free society still puzzles Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of the few Republican lawmakers willing to stand up to Trump and Greene.
“What we can do as a party is take a stand and say, ‘You are not part of our conference’. That’s what I think we should be doing, ”Kinzinger said in an interview with Politico Playbook on Monday.
“If there was some sort of organic movement, within the conference to oust Liz Cheney, we can certainly have the same kind of movement to oust someone who is trying to compare wearing a mask to the Nazis.”