Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a very tedious person. Even writing her name drains one’s energy; she’s like a fascist black hole.
So what is the best way to respond to someone like Marjorie Taylor Greene? Should we ignore her, and those of her ilk, and hope that she will magically disappear? Are those of us with a public platform elevating Marjorie Taylor Greene by giving her too much attention and therefore giving her more power and influence than she merits?
The answer is no.
Marjorie Taylor Greeene is a very dangerous person, a leading member of the Republican Party and larger neofascist movement. Proving that to be true once again, last week Marjorie Taylor Greene summoned up the country’s unique history of white on Black spectacular lynchings and other white supremacist violence in an attempt to gain political leverage, attention and more power.
On Wednesday, Greene and Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., were involved in what was by all reasonable accounts an animated and somewhat heated, albeit playful, conversation on the steps of the Capitol after a procedural vote on expelling indicted felon Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., from office.
On Thursday, Marjorie Taylor Greene held a press conference where she told bald-faced lies about Bowman’s behavior and her interactions with him the previous day and in the past, as Salon’s Tatyana Tandanpolie summarized:
Greene at a Thursday news conference said that she is “very concerned” about the “history of aggression” she claimed Bowman has toward her and other members of Congress. She described her perspective of the altercation, saying that Bowman approached her “yelling, shouting, raising his voice,” which led to the argument.
“He has aggressive — his physical mannerisms are aggressive,” she said, adding, “I think there’s a lot of concern about Jamaal Bowman, and I am concerned about it. I feel threatened by him.”
Greene claimed on Thursday that Bowman accosted her with a “mob” when she traveled to New York to protest Trump’s indictment on felony charges of falsifying business records. She said that Bowman cursed at her, “shouted at the top of his lungs” and called her a “white supremacist,” a remark that deeply offended her….
Greene added that she felt “swarmed” and feared for her life.
Greene’s statements are not true. Her life was not threatened or in any way endangered by Rep. Bowman either on Wednesday or during her publicity stunt in New York in support of the traitor and now indicted and arrested former president and alleged felon Donald Trump.
If Greene felt “threatened” by Bowman that is a manifestation of her own white racist paranoiac thinking for which she should seek counseling or other mental health assistance. Bowman was not physically aggressive towards Greene on Wednesday or on other occasions. Bowman has not been the subject of any reasonably reported concerns or complaints by other members of Congress about his “history of aggression.”
Marjorie Taylor Greene is some type of idiot savant in white supremacy and racism.
In total, Marjorie Taylor Greene’s threatening lies about Rep. Bowman are an example of some of the worst aspects of America’s long history of white supremacist violence against Black men (and Black and brown people more generally) – and white women’s role in instigating (and profiting from) it. Greene’s comments about Bowman were literally as though she was reciting a script from post-civil war Jim and Jane Crow America, with the almost identical words and lies that caused thousands of Black men (and women and children) to be lynched and otherwise terrorized by white people.
Moreover, it would not have been at all surprising if Greene did not summon up some tears on Wednesday outside of the Capitol or during her press conference the next day as she started to howl about how Bowman was a “giant negro” and “predator” who desired her and had violated her “honor.” White women’s tears were and remain some of the most powerful white supremacist weapons of terror and violence against Black and brown people.
If the movies “Birth of a Nation” or “Rosewood” were ever remade, Greene should be cast as one of the main characters. On the call sheet and in the credits her character should be listed as “white woman who lies and gets Black man lynched.”
White supremacy and racism are learned behaviors and a type of cultural script that consists of stories, “common sense”, emotional training, and other tools for making sense of the world. No one may have sat down with Marjorie Taylor Greene when she was a child or young adult and explicitly told her that “these are words and performance that you as a white woman can use to get a Black person arrested or hurt or worse” (and/or also get yourself out of trouble and get attention and pity by making yourself into a fake victim) but she learned the lessons anyway. The many ways that these lessons are taught and learned, intentionally and intentionally, consciously and subconsciously, on both sides of the color line, is why experts describe America as being a racist culture.
And in an example of the increasingly surreal and absurd ways that white supremacy operates in post-civil rights “colorblind” America and the Age of Trump — an era where even the Ku Klux Klan claims that it is no longer a racist organization — Marjorie Taylor Greene went so far as to say the following during her press conference on Thursday:
Jamaal Bowman [was] shouting at the top of his lungs, cursing, calling me a horrible … calling me a white supremacist which I take great offense to that….
It’s like calling a person of color the N-word which should never happen. Calling me a white supremacist is equal to that. That is wrong.
Marjorie Taylor Greene’s words constitute a nonsense claim and a nonsensical riddle that only make sense as processed through white racial logic and how white supremacy distorts a person’s cognition, perception of reality, morality and ethics. The “n-word” was invented by white people as a way of dehumanizing and demeaning Black people in order to justify slavery, land theft, genocide, colonialism, imperialism, theft, murder, rape, and other acts of oppression and crimes against humanity.
Marjorie Taylor Greene has repeatedly shown herself through her actions and words to be a white supremacist.
To accurately describe a person as being a white supremacist (or being part of a political project that does the work of white supremacy, which is functionally the same thing) is in no way equivalent to attacking a Black person with the “n-word.”
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As seen with the rise of the Age of Trump and the Republican Fascist Party, many tens of millions of white people agree with Marjorie Taylor Greene and her fantasies, fictions, and lies about “reverse racism” and how white people are somehow the “real victims” of racism in American or that white people are somehow being “replaced” or “oppressed” in “their own countries” by non-whites.
Parsing such white racial “logic” is draining. Toni Morrison’s wisdom remains all too true that, “The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being….” It is no surprise then that racial battle fatigue is literally killing Black and brown people here in America from the day-to-day stress of living in a white racist society.
In his essential book, “Trouble in Mind Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow”, historian Leon Litwack offers the following insights, which merit being quoted at length, on America’s lynching culture and white racial terrorism against Black Americans:
White fears were based on the assumption that most lynchings stemmed from sexual assault. But in many cases, reports of sexual assault proved entirely baseless, or upon closer examination revealed only that a black male had broken the rules of racial etiquette, had behaved in a manner construed as racial insult, or had violated the bar on consensual interracial sex….
Rape and sexual indiscretion, in actuality, proved to be a relatively minor cause of mob violence….
The offenses that precipitated mob violence related less to sex crimes (as sensationalized in the press) than to physical assault and murder (the most common charge) theft, arson, violations of the racial code, economic competition, and disputes over crop settlements. Many of the transgressions by blacks would have been regarded as relatively trivial if committed by whites and were not grounds anywhere else for capital punishment: using disrespectful, insulting, slanderous, boastful, threatening or “incendiary” language; insubordination, impertinence, impudence or improper demeanor (a sarcastic grin, laughing, laughing at the wrong time, a prolonged silence), refusing to take off one’s hat to a white person or to give the right of way (to step aside) when encountering a white on the sidewalk; resisting assault by whites; “being troublesome generally”; disorderly conduct, petty theft, or drunkenness; writing an improper (“insulting”) letter to a white person; paying undue or improper attention to a white female; accusing a white man of writing love letters to a black woman, or living or keeping company with a white woman; turning or refusing to turn state’s evidence, testifying or bringing suit against a white person, or being related to a person accused of a crime and already lynched; political activities union organizing, conjuring or discussing a lynching; gambling or operating a “house of ill fame”; a personal debt, refusing to accept an employment offer; “jumping” a labor contract; vagrancy; refusing to give up one’s farm; conspicuously displaying one’s wealth or property; and (in the eyes of whites) trying to act like a white man.
Victims of lynch mobs, more often than not, had challenged or unintentionally violated the prevailing norms of white supremacy. And these range from serious offenses (in the eyes of whites) to the trivial….
All too often, black southerners, innocent of any crime or offense, were victims of lynchings or burnings because they were black and in the wrong place at the wrong time….
Investigators frequently found no easily ascertainable reason for a lynching, except perhaps white emotional and recreational starvation. For some “nigger killing” had simply become a sport, like any other amusement or diversion, and its popularity prompted a Black newspaper in 1911 to call it “The National Pastime”….
Although seldom cited as the reason for mob violence, the assumption persisted that an occasional lynching, for whatever reason, served a useful purpose, that periodically it became necessary to remind a new generation of blacks of their place in southern society.
It would strain all credulity to believe that Marjorie Taylor Greene has read Litwack’s book (or any other serious works of American history). Yet, she is offering a perfect 21st-century reenactment of his descriptions of America’s lynching culture. In that way, perhaps Greene is some type of idiot savant in white supremacy and racism.
History is a moving train.
The America of today is not the same country as it was during Jim and Jane Crow (although the Trumpists and Republican fascists and the larger White Right and MAGAites are desperately trying to recreate it). There has been too much blood spilled, sacrifices made, and progress earned along the color line to suggest that the long Black Freedom Struggle and civil rights movement and its hope warriors of all colors did not win many victories to improve America and its democracy and larger society for all people.
However, America’s foundation and its culture are still rotting away from racism and white supremacy and the many forms of social inequality that it nurtures and spreads. In the end, white supremacy, be it in the form of Trumpism or some of other form of neofascism and white racial authoritarianism, will bring the ultimate destruction of American democracy and society.
History is a moving train and at the same time, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
In that way, it is “progress” that after Marjorie Taylor Greene summoned up her racist threats and lies that Rep. Bowman was not chased down and murdered by a white lynching party after they tortured him. It is another type of progress as well, that Rep. Bowman, a Black man, is even a member of Congress. He knows that history and stands on the shoulders of those 16 Black men who served as Representatives during Reconstruction and the hundreds of others who held office in local and state governments across the former Confederacy. A white supremacist backlash ended the great experiment in multiracial democracy that was Reconstruction, and those Black men were forced from office not just in Congress but across the South and other parts of the country.
On Jan. 6, the descendants of the Confederacy and Jim and Jane Crow White America, besieged and overran Congress with the goal of keeping Trump in power indefinitely. The Trump terrorists waved Confederate flags, erected a gallows across the street from the Capitol, carried a White Christian Cross like the Klan, and had many neo-Nazis, Kluxers, and other white supremacist thugs among their mob. The Trump terrorists hurled racial invective at the Black police officers who valiantly defended the Capitol – and American democracy – with their lives. It is no coincidence that Marjorie Taylor Greene supported – and still does – Trump’s coup attempt on Jan. 6 and his attempt to end multiracial pluralistic democracy.
Most of the Black people who were victims of America’s lynching culture and its Jim and Jane Crow terror regime were denied, literally, the opportunity to speak back to their killers and other assailants. (The white on Black spectacular lynching was a type of ritual; as part of that ritual, one of the common tortures consisted of cutting off the victim’s tongue as well as other body parts and selling them as souvenirs). To honor those ancestors, I am ending this essay with Rep. Bowman’s own words about his encounter with Marjorie Taylor Greene:
So for her the next morning to say what she said, I mean, is a complete 180, number one. It’s no longer comical now because now you are using historical racist tropes toward Black men — ‘menacing,’ ‘his mannerisms,’ ‘I’m afraid.’ That’s the stuff that got Trayvon Martin killed, Tamir Rice killed, Michael Brown….This is another reason why we need to teach the accurate history of America in our schools and make sure African American history is a part of that because [of] her rhetoric and her behavior in Congress outside of me….
This is dangerous territory we’re walking in here, and we have to be clear about that…And we need her to say on the record — one, she should apologize to me on record. Two, ask her directly, ‘Do you want physical violence to be inflicted on Congressman Bowman?'”
At the end of her statement it was, ‘We need to watch him.’ That’s almost like Donald Trump’s ‘Stand by and stand back’ to the Proud Boys at that debate a couple years ago. ‘We need to watch him’ — What are you saying?”…
She’s not even using a dog whistle. She’s using a bullhorn to put a target on my back….Throughout history, Black men have continually been characterized as aggressive because, one, of our skin color, but two, because we happen to be outspoken and passionate about certain issues
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