- Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene privately apologized to her Republican colleagues this week.
- In public, however, she has boasted that she has nothing to be sorry about.
- Republicans will have to answer, now or someday, for her ongoing antics.
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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican from Georgia who two years before winning her first election said Jews were starting wildfires with laser beams from outer space, is sorry about all that — or at least behind closed doors, she was sorry for the controversy she’s caused.
Privately, on Wednesday, she apologized. According to sources who spoke to The Hill, she told her GOP colleagues that “she made a mistake by being curious about ‘Q,'” the deranged hoax (accepted by 3 in 10 Republicans who speak to pollsters) about Democrats running a global pedophile ring.
Greene, a close ally of former President Donald Trump and a big-time promoter of false claims about election fraud, went on to deny even knowing about the whole “Jewish space lasers” thing and deflected blame for having retraumatized survivors of mass murder by saying “she had personal experience with a school shooting.”
The newly elected lawmaker then received a standing ovation from some in the GOP caucus. It’s unclear from reports if she apologized for claiming 9/11 was an inside job or for showing support for posts that said top Democrats should be executed.
Apologies, when authentic, are directed to those who were harmed. In this instance, the remorse was aimed at her Republican colleagues — not those who she actually harmed — who are now having to publicly distance themselves from untrue statements that are believed by some of their base. And even in the safe space of a Republican caucus, Greene, according to reports, did not actually take ownership of all the hateful things she said before getting elected.
In public, she’s not sorry at all. Speaking this week to Seb Gorka, a former assistant to Trump, Greene could only muster a shrug. The liberal media, she said, borrowing from her ally at Mar-a-Lago, was only reporting on the things she has said and done because they — the elite — don’t like seeing an ostensibly regular person like her in power.
“I have said things I shouldn’t say at some time or another,” she told Gorka, “but I don’t think I have anything to apologize for.”
Back in the comfort of social media, Greene continued repeating falsehoods on Wednesday. To Rep. Ilhan Omar, the Somali refugee turned Democratic lawmaker from Minnesota, she tweeted, on the same day as grand apology: “[B]y the way, marrying your brother is ILLEGAL,” a right-wing conspiracy theory about Omar’s husband that’s dripping in 19th-century racism.
What happened Wednesday is what often happens in Washington, DC: politics. Republicans want to move on from a news cycle focused on their “loony” fringe, to borrow a word from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, which is made harder by that fringe now residing inside the House. And so a big meeting was held, where an apology is coaxed out and can silence the inconvenient chatter about what it is exactly that the 2021 Republican Party stands for.
That’s behind us now, Republican leaders will say, a refrain that has already begun. “I’ve been very clear that we need to resolve this tonight as members,” Minority Whip Steve Scalise told Politico before the meeting. “I want the members to go through, air their grievances but get it through tonight and then we gotta move forward together.”
Afterward, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was eager to accept Greene’s apology, while also claiming ignorance regarding the content of the conspiracy theories for which she was apologizing (“I don’t even know what it is,” he said of QAnon). He deflected saying that many of the comments were made before she was an elected official. There was no effort to grapple with the conspiracy theories she’s promoted since joining his caucus — because that would lead to grappling with Trump’s “big lie.”
McCarthy, unwilling to strip Green of committee assignments or otherwise attach consequences for her actions, is instead leaving it to Democrats to do the dirty work.
It shouldn’t be behind us, though. The years 2016 through 2021 showed that conspiracy theorists are not harmless; they can, indeed, become rather powerful. And the events of January 6 illustrate that the end-product is often bloodshed and a threat to democracy itself — spurred from the top and perpetuated by more than just Greene within the Republican Party and its leadership.
If Greene is truly sorry she will, without excuses or deflections, apologize to parents whose children were murdered at their elementary school; to poll workers who fear for their lives because she said they stole an election; and to a Jewish community that had enough to deal with before they were being blamed for setting wildfires with laser beams.
But thus far, in public, she is not really sorry. She has said as much. And until Republican leaders and rank-and-file members alike decide that doing nothing is not enough, they should be forced to address, again and again, the metastasizing cancer within.
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