If the Algorithm has plugged you into a venue of Twitter like the one I occupy, then you’ve surely seen a bounty of calls for the resignation of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. This week videos and comments of Greene, some from her social media, others from her earliest days as a US Representative, have become the focus of internet ire from the left and center (whatever is left of it, that is). To briefly overview some of the outrage-inducing highlights:
- She blamed ‘Jewish space lasers’ for a major forest fire.
- Verbally assaulted (sans mask, mind you) Representative Cori Bush of Missouri, with one Greene staff member yelling, “Stop inciting violence with Black Lives Matter!”
- Called the Parkland school shooting a false flag operation, and harassed shooting survivor/activist David Hogg in the street.
- Announced in December she met with Donald Trump to plan the Capitol Riot, then just days ago told a known UK-bigot Katie Hopkins she’d do it again, commenting along the way she wished she could “our white people here that have no appreciation for our country” for bigots like Hopkins.
- Called political opponents, and people on the political left “r*tarded”.
The backlog of batshit crazy that trails this woman is seemingly endless, and certainly enough to warrant the expulsion of a member of Congress, an exceptional measure reserved for those whom the collective recognizes as a threat to our democracy. That’s what would normally happen, right? At least a rebuke from GOP colleagues to show they are not associated with, nor approving of such behavior, no?
Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, our last president, the one half the nation has been convinced did not in fact lose, had to be removed from Twitter, and is currently facing his second impeachment trial in the Senate. On top of that, despite four years of the Trump Party circus, both chambers of Congress lack the Democratic majorities needed to expel members.
There is nothing normal, logical, or calming about these times. That is why this normal reaction — take to Twitter, make #GreeneResign trend, put the pressure on, etc. — will simply have no impact. Game Stop’s stock has been bigger news than a deranged leader of an insurrectionist movement.
I take no joy in saying this. As a believer in democracy, as a Jew alarmed by the normalization of open hatred we’ve seen, and most paramount, as an American, the Greene’s actions cause me no shortage of distress. However, while I might cringe at her every word and deed, past, present, and future, I cannot deny that she is merely a byproduct of a democratic system that is deeply sick with a cancer outrage on Twitter will do little to ameliorate.
It is not just “The Big Lie” that has caused trouble of late, nor is it simply the spineless leadership of the GOP. It is, in fact, the same potently explosive combination that made Nazism a dominating force in Germany nearly a century ago: the greed of the powerful, coupled with the misguided anger of a people repeatedly aggrieved by forces beyond their capacity, or want, to understand.
If it were a normal period of time you could expect a fringe few people to claim the coronavirus wasn’t real, or it was God’s punishment, or some other bogus conspiracy; instead, half the country either doesn’t believe it is real, or believes it isn’t a problem worth doing anything about. This is the same half that thinks the election was stolen from a man who offends, lies, and cheats more easily than he breaths.
Marjorie Taylor Greene is born of the same illness as was Trump’s election: lies. Truth itself is no longer objective, but relative. It serves a want rather than guides any reason. We didn’t get here because people stopped being able to think; we got here because so many people were made to think only in terms of hatred, resentment, and vindictiveness, fueled by one falsehood after another.
This terrifying paradigm is the symptom of a media landscape built for profit (algorithmic outrage included), the persistence of white supremacy in this country, abysmal socio-economic realities (such as the education crisis that’s been going on for decades), and yes, spineless leadership from those who call themselves “conservatives.”
The solutions to these problems are not going to be simple, or easy to implement: if you wondered why the courts were the apple of McConnell’s eye, you’ll find your answer in their ability to blow up legislative solutions. While I acknowledge it is easy to ascribe my comparison to Nazism as hyperbolic, I stand by it, and recognize that the fear our current reality elicits makes it hard to accept. But, it is our reality, because all but a fickle few members of the GOP are standing by guys like these:
The roots of this moment go back to 1619, and have been entrenched by modern tech, the shortcomings of the First Amendment, and the misguided anger that decades of economic decline in this country has produced. I do not wish to be alarmist, but there is a good chance we will see more violence like that of January 6th before real solutions come into effect. The pandemic is only fueling greater misery, and giving more people time to adopt conspiracy theories as their truth.
The Romans, after whom we modeled our democracy, had a censor, a respected official to help reprimand dangerous, and immoral behavior. In America today, Nazis freely spread their ideology from 4chan to Fox News, calling it “free speech.” Evidently, we need to update our laws from 1789 to 2021, where the going rate of information is 6,000 tweets/minute, algorithms curate what we consume, and truth is a matter of opinion. I’m sorry my Democrat friends, but your angry tweets fix these structural issues anymore than they’ll make Marjorie Taylor Greene a decent person.