Tuesday, November 09, 2021

A Party Not Out Of Control

Something significant is occurring in Republican politics, although as the Buffalo Springfield would have put it, "what it is ain't exactly clear."

You might remember when in January, 2019 then-Representative Steve King of Iowa was removed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of committee assignments following

bipartisan condemnation of King’s recent interview that appeared to lament that the term “white supremacist” is considered offensive.

McCarthy announced that the House Republican Steering Committee – which oversees committee assignments – met Monday night and made a decision that King “will not be serving on committees in this Congress.”

The move is just the latest reaction to King’s comments, which have outraged both sides of the aisle, and spurred calls for more actions against the conservative Iowa congressman, who has a lengthy history of incendiary comments related to race and immigration.

Such decisive action by the GOP minority has not become the norm.  In May, one of its members, U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor

Greene tweeted an article about a grocery store chain allowing vaccinated employees to go maskless and wear a vaccination logo displayed on their name badge. Greene compared the vaccination logo to the yellow Star of David badges that Jews were forced to wear by Nazi Germany.

It's not the first time Greene made remarks comparing rules on COVID-19 masking to the atrocities of the Holocaust, where Nazis killed 6 million Jews.

Just days ago, she appeared on a conservative podcast and said Pelosi's decision to continue masking requirements for House members on the chamber floor is "exactly the type of abuse" Jews experienced under the Nazi regime.

Greene was stripped of her committee assignments, but only after a resolution introduced by a Democratic congressman passed with the unanimous support of Democrats and eleven- 11 of 210- Republicans.  

On Monday, following a visit to the D.C. Central Detention Facility, Representative Greene posted a thread of 17 tweets praising not only the January 6 insurrections- no surprise there- but also Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam for opposing Covid-19 vaccination and supporting Ivermectin as a treatment for the coronavirus. 

Minister Farrakhan long ago became known for reprehensible remarks, including this from 2006:

These false Jews promote the filth of Hollywood that is seeding the American people and the people of the world and bringing you down in moral strength. … It’s the wicked Jews, the false Jews, that are promoting lesbianism, homosexuality. It’s the wicked Jews, false Jews, that make it a crime for you to preach the word of God, then they call you homophobic!


It's unlikely action will be taken against Greene, as it is improbable that Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona will face consequences even though on Sunday he posted a

roughly 90-second video (whch) is an altered version of a Japanese anime series, interspersed with shots of border patrol officers and migrants at the southern U.S. border.

During one roughly 10-second section of the video, animated characters whose faces have been replaced with Gosar and fellow Republican Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado are seen fighting other animated characters.

In one scene, Gosar's character is seen striking the one made to look like Ocasio-Cortez in the back of the neck with a sword.

Twitter later attached a warning to the tweet saying it "violated the Twitter Rules about hateful conduct. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible."

It is tempting to suggest cynically that King went down and Greene and Gosar will not because the latter two are among members of the House of Representatives who reportedly collaborated with the insurrectionists plotting the attempted coup of January 6. However, two other explanations are more plausible.

After he was cut down a peg or two by his fellow House Republicans, King went on to lose a primary as his opponents "honed in on his waning influence in Washington." McCarthy may have observed that drawing attention to the controversial remarks and general repulsiveness of a member of your caucus is an effective way to castrate politically that member while drawing further attention to the party's troubles. Better to let the matter blow over.

But there is another possible explanation, one which would, not coincidentally, line up with one of the themes of this blog.  

Greene is a brazen anti-Semite but even though it tolerates her, the GOP has somewhat immunized itself against charges of anti-Semitism because of the extreme and unwavering support it has given to the Israeli government the past several years. Additionally, Democratic hands are not completely clean on this. (See Omar, Ilhan; Tlaib, Rashida.)

Gosar has merely promoted the assassination of one of his colleagues. However, that is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a boogeyman of the right, so no biggie.

By contrast, Steve King, in condoning white supremacy, was legitimately characterized as a racist while his party is vulnerable to the charge of racism. Like their voters, GOP politicians do not like to be called racists in instances in which the charge is justified, and in the greater number in which it is not.

Admittedly, the Law of Parsimony would suggest merely that the Republican Party, loathsome a couple of years ago, is more so now.  While an easy and reasonable explanation, others should not be readily dismissed.


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