The Troubling Case of Marjorie Taylor Greene
There are the obvious reasons for being troubled. A new member of Congress who has embraced, and ridden into office on crazy and pernicious conspiracy theories. The satirists and late night show hosts have had a most entertaining field day with MTG. I confess, I have joined in with my own sarcastic barbs and OMG’s.
But what’s troubling me is the vote of her colleagues to put her on the side-lines, to not allow her to participate in committees of the House. It’s a little like saying, “Because you haven’t played by our rules, we won’t let you in our game.” Perhaps that’s exactly what they are saying. And possibly with good reason.
I could be okay with that if her present words and behavior were rife with nutty conspiracy theories, embrace of Q, and mortal threats against politicians she doesn’t like. But, as I understand it, she has been pilloried for her past utterances, tweets, on-line photos, etc.
In a speech this week to her colleagues, she said that was no longer her. That was in the past. And in a very strange choice of words she said, “I had been allowed to believe . . .” in various nutty theories discovered on her descent into the subterranean reaches of the internet.
Yes, one is reasonably skeptical of these claims to a change of heart. Is she, like her patron, Trump, saying whatever she needs to say to please the present audience? Are her disavowals just plain lies, lies of convenience? Or is she telling the truth?
Well, there’s a way to find out . . . does she keep it up or not? Does she tote a gun around the Capitol? Does she keep repeating nut-so theories in her social media posts? Does she threaten her colleagues with death and mayhem? If so, give her the boot — and not just off committees but out of the House.
In the meantime, the Democrats (and some Republicans) who revoked Greene’s committee assignments, effectively telling her she can’t be one of them even though elected by her district’s voters, have tarred Greene with the “deplorable” label, which many of the scorned have re-purposed as a badge of honor.
In doing so, they have confirmed — I’m pretty sure — the view of many on the far right that “liberals” regard them with an undying disgust and scorn that gives the lie to claims of “inclusive,” “tolerant,” and “compassionate,” and similar self-descriptors employed by liberals and progressives.
Yes, “inclusion” has its limits. You don’t let someone who aims to kill you or your loved ones into the house (or House). But Greene was right. Her offensive statements were things she had said in the past. She claimed they were not her today.
Who among us has not said, and done, some stupid things in the past? Okay, so they weren’t that stupid, but the point remains.
In the current age of the internet/ social media, we need to be prepared for those who have been sucked in, seduced and addicted, by its vapors and toxins. Consider those, or their family members, who got sucked into ISIS on-line and now languish in the limbo of encampments and isolation, denied return to their countries of origin. There has to be some way to rehabilitate the brainwashed. If they have done criminal things, let them pay the price. But believing bullshit alone . . . well, “there but for the grace of God go I.”
Of late I’ve quoted Yuval Levin (A Time To Build) a good bit. He was a guest on Amy Walter’s “Politics” show on NPR the other day.
He made this point about the frequently heard, if infrequently practiced, word “civility.” Civility said Levin means disagreeing with your opponents with all the persuasive power that is in you, but understanding that when you wake up tomorrow they will still be there. His point was that we have to figure out how to live with those with whom we disagree because they aren’t going away.
A fair bit of the current ethos, on both sides in the culture war, seems predicated on the assumption that one side will win and the other side will be vanquished and, yes, gone. But that’s not politics. That’s not pluralism. That’s war (or the movies). And even then, in war, the enemy doesn’t really disappear though they may be defeated.
Levin is right. The people with whom we disagree aren’t going to magically go away. We have to figure out how to live with those with whom we disagree. Or as someone said, puncturing a happy romantic fantasy, “True community is where the person you least want to be with always is.”
Yes, if people cross legal and criminal lines, as did the January 6 insurrectionists, as did former President Trump, let them pay the price and receive the consequences of their actions.
In the meantime, putting Greene in a timeless penalty box, however understandable, is troubling.