Photo: Marjorie Taylor Greene being sworn into office by House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy
Less than one month into its new session, the House of Representatives is faced with the question of whether or not to expel one of its own — Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia’s 14th District. Rep. Greene’s embrace of racist conspiracy theories and revelations that she expressed support for killing prominent politicians as recently as 2019 have opened up a political scandal and major divisions within the Republican Party.
Steny Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the House, demanded on Monday that Republicans remove Greene from her assignments to legislative committees. Hoyer gave the Republican leadership three days to do so before the Democrats would attempt to take action themselves. But top House Republican Kevin McCarthy only committed to having a “conversation” with Greene, which took place last night. Media reports now suggest that McCarthy may try to reach a compromise where Greene loses one committee spot but not all.
A separate measure to take the more severe step of expelling Greene from Congress has also been introduced. However, because such a move would require a two-thirds majority vote it is highly unlikely to succeed.
The U.S. Congress has always been a place where acts of racist violence have been advocated and enacted — how else would one describe the Pentagon war machine, for instance, which Congress funds to the tune of $1 trillion every year? But what Greene and likeminded figures represent is a new breed of fascistic politicians that openly promote violence against their domestic opponents and are getting their first taste of power on the national political scene. They support many of the central ideological tenets espoused by the fascist, white supremacist forces that led the charge in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol Building and have been elevated by Donald Trump as part of an alliance of convenience. It is crucially important to study this rising political trend and its leaders.
Marjorie Taylor Greene
In April 2018, Greene assured a Facebook contact that the “Stage is being set” for the execution of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In early 2019, she repeatedly stated her belief that Nancy Pelosi should be executed for treason. In January 2019, Greene liked a post on Facebook advocating removing Pelosi from office by way of “a bullet to the head.” Advocating violence against your ruling class rivals breaks a cardinal rule of U.S. politics. As hypocritical as that rule is for people who regularly authorize horrific acts of violence on working and poor people, it nevertheless is a clear indicator that Greene and her ilk represent something new in national politics.
Greene is a fervent opponent of the movement for Black lives and has argued that Confederate monuments should make Black people feel proud. She stated in a video posted to social media “The most mistreated group of people in the United States today are white males.” In 2018 she shared a video that claimed a shadowy cabal is attempting to commit “the biggest genocide in human history” against white people throught their efforts to “promote immigration and miscegenation [inter-racial relationships].” This is in essence what ideological fascists call “the great replacement,” a central tenant of contemporary white supremacist political theory.
Greene characterized the results of the 2018 midterm election, which saw the election of Muslim Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, as “an Islamic invasion into our government offices.” She argued that Omar and Tlaib should be forced to redo their oath of office on a Bible instead of a Quran. More broadly, she has urged Muslims to “stay over there in the Middle East” where they “can have a whole bunch of wives, or goats.”
Conspiracy theories have always played an important role in the growth and development of fascist movements. Greene has promoted the bizarre “QAnon” conspiracy and similar notions revolving around the existence of a satanic ring of cannibalistic pedophiles whose ranks include some of the world’s most powerful people. Greene believes that the horrific 2018 Parkland school mass shooting was a hoax, staged to provide a rationale for restrictions on gun rights. Perhaps most bizarrely, Greene posted to Facebook speculating that the devastating 2018 forest fires in California were caused by a secret space laser controlled by the Rothschild family — who frequently serve as a stand-in for all Jewish people in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Newly elected Congresswoman from Colorado’s 3rd District Lauren Boebert falls squarely in the same political camp as Greene. Last June, Boebert tweeted “I am the militia.” And indeed, Boebert does have ties to the loosely organized network of fascist paramilitary groups broadly referred to as the “militia movement.” On December 7, 2019, Boebert was a co-organizer of a gun rights rally in Colorado where the “Three Percenters” — one of the largest militia groups — were in charge of security. The gun-themed restaurant Boebert owns appears to have been a popular hangout for Three Percenters.
The former head of Boebert’s election campaign, far-right activist Sherronna Bishop, hosted a member of the Proud Boys for one of her popular social media video interviews. The Proud Boys are a prominent pro-Trump fascist organization with a focus on street fighting targeting leftists. Bishop praised the group, remarking during the interview, “Thank god for you guys and the Proud Boys.”
Boebert was a vocal supporter of the mob that carried out the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol Building. The morning of the assault, she tweeted “Today is 1776,” comparing the people who would in just a few hours disperse and attempt to kidnap members of Congress to fighters in the U.S. War of Independence — which was of course a bloody armed struggle that involved tens of thousands of deaths.
This provides the essential context with which to understand the firearm-related stunts Boebert has pulled since taking office. On Jan. 3, Boebert released a video where she vows to defy D.C. local law by carrying a handgun around the city. On Jan. 12, Boebert caused a scene at a security checkpoint in the Capitol Building where she set off a metal detector and then refused to allow an officer to inspect her bag, where she had a gun. This was not simply a commentary on restrictive gun laws. Boebert’s insistence on having the capacity to employ deadly force while on the floor of the House of Representatives is a move to legitimize the type of fascist political violence that was on display on Jan. 6.
In November, prominent member of the fascist “Oath Keepers” militia Jim Arroyo published a video where he claimed, “We did a meeting a couple of years ago where our elected representative from Washington Paul Gosar … we asked him flat out at that time, ‘Do you think we’re heading into a civil war?’ And his response to the group was just flat out, ‘We’re in it. We just haven’t started shooting at each other yet.’”
There is good reason to think that Arroyo is telling the truth. Dave Gosar, Paul’s brother, who like other members of his family have publicly denounced him over his extremist views, told the New York Times, “He’s twisted up so tight with the Oath Keepers it’s not even funny.” Paul Gosar has also been seen in public with Oath Keepers as well as Proud Boys members.
During the 2014 armed standoff between federal law enforcement and followers of militia leader Cliven Bundy, Gosar traveled to the site of the conflict to extend his support to Bundy. This standoff was a precursor to the deadly confrontation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that ensued after an occupation staged by Bundy’s son and his supporters.
Gosar has been an outspoken defender of avowed white supremacists. Gosar was part of an effort in 2019 to restore Representative Steve King’s committee assignments after they were taken away following a scandal sparked by King incredulously asking during an interview with the New York Times, “White nationalist, white supremacist … how did that language become offensive?” Gosar was a speaker at a rally in London in support of Tommy Robinson, the former leader of a fascist street fighting group called the English Defence League. Gosar even went so far as to invite Robinson to speak in the U.S. Congress.
How did we get here?
Greene, Boebert, Gosar and others are symptoms of the long-term rightward march of U.S. politics. They and the political current they represent did not appear overnight or as the consequence of “hate” in the abstract.
Certainly, the Republican Party that all three are members of deserves to be blamed. Their embrace of an increasingly violent and unhinged far right, which began at least as far back as the Tea Party phenomenon of 2009, is one of the most dangerous developments in recent U.S. political history. Whether or not this is rooted in their true beliefs or done out of political opportunism is besides the point.
But the Democratic Party plays an irreplaceable role in this dynamic as well. For decades, their electoral strategy has revolved around the concept of triangulation — adopting positions that are just slightly less right wing than whatever the Republicans come up with that election cycle in order to create a winning voting bloc by occupying the “middle ground” of the political landscape. The Republican Party moves to the right, the Democratic Party moves to the right but a notch or two less in an attempt to appeal to “moderate” voters, rinse and repeat until gun-toting believers in secret Jewish space lasers are sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives.
A dramatic change in the direction of U.S. politics is necessary to defeat the rising menace of fascism. This is the task of the socialist movement — it cannot be accomplished by the same Democratic Party elites who helped create this situation in the first place.