Marjorie Taylor Greene should be expelled from Congress — but Republicans are too afraid of Trump to do it
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is exploiting and distorting the Holocaust to promote the extreme right’s political agenda. And she may get away with it.
Greene, a vehement anti-masker, recently compared COVID-19 health measures to the Nazi regime’s extermination of six million Jews in World War II. She claimed that a “vaccination logo” on the name badges of vaccinated employees in a supermarket is “just like” the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear in Nazi-occupied Europe. And she tweeted that a university’s policy of barring unvaccinated students from class was a “Nazi practice.” As the American Jewish Congress pointed out, “Such comparisons demean the Holocaust.”
Greene should be expelled from Congress. Perhaps once it was tempting to dismiss her as just a fringe character with her past support for QAnon, her claim that the Parkland, Fla., school shootings were a false-flag operation and her suggestion that space lasers caused the California wild fires for the benefit of, among others, an investment banking firm that bears the name of a prominent Jewish family. It started to dawn on people that Greene is potentially dangerous when it emerged that she had endorsed social media posts advocating violence against Democrats, which caused House Democrats and a handful of Republicans to vote to strip her of her committee seats.
Her Holocaust remarks, in which she blithely equated an unfathomable crime that caused unfathomable suffering with standard pandemic protections, should be the final straw. Greene actually falsified Holocaust history to justify the comparison. She insisted that she was only referring to the “early Nazi years” and not drawing a comparison to the Holocaust. In fact, Jews were not forced to wear yellow stars until 1941, when the exterminations began.
Greene, who has made racist and antisemitic remarks and once said that she would not take down statues of Hitler, is edging dangerously close to Holocaust “denial and distortion,” which the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum defines as a form of “antisemitism.”
Despite all this, Greene is unlikely to be expelled even though the purpose of the expulsion authority granted each chamber by the Constitution is to protect the institution’s dignity and reputation, which Greene is certainly damaging. But expulsion requires a two-thirds vote by the House, which means that significant numbers of House Republicans would have to vote to expel, and that is unlikely because, to borrow from Mafia lexicon, Greene is under the “Don’s” protection. After her 2020 election, Trump hailed Greene as a “future Republican star,” which makes her untouchable in the Republican Party.
Thus, many Republicans evidently would rather tolerate Greene using her congressional seat to denigrate the Holocaust and promote her other lunatic theories than cross Trump. As evidence of their cravenness to Trump, while the top Senate and House leaders condemned the comparison of vaccinations to the Holocaust, only House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) identified her by name. None would answer questions about disciplining Greene. Contrast that with how quickly House Republicans stripped Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.) of her leadership position for openly disputing Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.
The prospects for getting rid of Greene in the 2022 Republican primary in Georgia’s ultraconservative 14th Congressional District are not great. In 2020 she won a primary runoff with a solid 57 percent of the vote and ran unopposed in the general election, not that a Democratic opponent would have made a difference in that district. Greene will likely face Republican primary challengers next year but, according to Darrell Galloway, the Republican Party chair for the 14th district, she has a committed voter base in the district and will “be very hard to beat,” despite her behavior.
Republicans in Congress will likely own Greene and her mad ravings for a long time to come, and it will serve them right. But congressional dignity and reputation will pay a heavy price.
Gregory J. Wallance, a writer in New York City, was a federal prosecutor during the Carter and Reagan administrations, where he was a member of the ABSCAM prosecution team that convicted a U.S. senator and six congressmen of bribery. He is a long-time human rights activist and the author of “America’s Soul in the Balance: The Holocaust, FDR’s State Department, and The Moral Disgrace of an American Aristocracy.” Follow him on Twitter @gregorywallance.