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The antisemitic extremist whose voice rings loud in US Congress

Dan Coleman
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Published: 25 June 2021

Last updated: 4 March 2024

DAN COLEMAN: Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s litany of slurs about Jews reflect a disturbing post-Trump reality of US political life

BILL MAHER IS a comedian and host of the HBO’s long running talk show Real Time With Bill Maher. On June 11, his guest was Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist whose latest book is Cosmic Queries.

“Your book is about the big questions,” Maher opened, “and I’m going to get to the biggest one first: Jewish space lasers. How did the Jews get them up there?”

“The Jews are all powerful, apparently,” Tyson replied in a jocular tone, as he, Maher, and the audience broke out in laughter. For them, Jewish space lasers are an absolute absurdity.

Yet Tyson’s rejoinder was precisely the implication of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s 2018 Facebook post claiming that California’s wildfires were caused by space lasers controlled by the Rothschilds. Sure, her words sound crazy but we can never forget that within such craziness lie the seeds of antisemitic discrimination, violence, and, potentially, even genocide.

The views of Greene, a Republican from Georgia, are replete with inane conspiracy theories overlaid with a broad brush of racism. The Washington Post characterised her 2020 campaign for Congress as “marked by her racist, antisemitic and Islamophobic statements".

Greene shrugged off such criticism, labelling concerns about a campaign photo opportunity with prominent Georgian white supremacist Chester Doles, “the same type of sleazy attacks the Fake News Media levels against President Trump”.

The Washington Post characterised her 2020 campaign for Congress as “marked by racist, antiSemitic and Islamophobic statements".

When Greene took office, with a de-platformed Trump less in the public eye, she became the target of the lampooning that had for four years been heaped upon the former president.

“She’s your crazy aunt’s even crazier friend,” The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah declared. Trump called her “a rising star,” little realising that her star was, in some respects, beginning to eclipse his own.

Not everyone in the Republican Party has been so kind to Greene. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called her views “a cancer” on the party. Senator Marco Rubio  characterised her positions as “deranged”. And Senator Mitt Romney said the party’s big tent was not big enough to accommodate “kooks”.

Greene’s antisemitism is not limited to space lasers. She has promoted the “great replacement” conspiracy which alleges that “Zionists” are using immigrants as pawns to replace white majorities in Western nations. Shockingly, she called Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros, himself a Holocaust survivor, “a Nazi, trying to continue what was not finished”.

Greene’s ignorance was in full force last month when she compared the House of Representatives’ mask requirement to the Holocaust.

"This woman is mentally ill," Greene said of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Dem). "We can look back in a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens — so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany, and this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about."

She also compared a supermarket’s decision to add a logo to the badges of vaccinated workers to the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear in Nazi-occupied Europe, tweeting that “vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi’s [sic] forced Jewish people to wear a gold star.”

Last week, Greene surprised many by announcing she had taken a private tour of Washington’s Holocaust Museum, her eyes had been opened, and she wanted to apologise for her remarks. “The horrors of the Holocaust are something that some people don’t even believe happened,” she said, “and some people deny, but there is no comparison to the Holocaust.”

There is a legitimate question as to how sincere Greene’s apology is versus whether it is the kind of careful manoeuvre so often taken by ambitious politicians. Greene may indeed have been among the millions of Americans who are ignorant of the Holocaust.

A 2020 Pew Research survey found that only 41% of Greene’s age cohort (30-49, Greene is 47) knew that six million Jews perished in the Holocaust. This is even worse than the already dispiriting findings of the Crossroads21 survey, published last month by The Jewish Independent, that 30% of Australians said they know little or virtually nothing about the Holocaust.

Not everyone is generous in their response to Greene’s apology. “It’s amazing what a little education can do,” opined late-night TV host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel. “She now knows as much about the Holocaust as every sixth-grader in Washington DC. Quick, build a climate change museum too!”

She has claimed that she did not know the Rothschilds, to whom she attributed the space lasers, were Jewish.

Trevor Noah wondered if “we [are] going to get a press conference every time Marjorie Taylor Greene learns about something? Because she doesn’t know about a lot of things.” He said he felt bad for her because learning “forces you to take back all the ignorant shit you said in the past”.

Greene has been learning a lot recently as evidenced by her scrubbing of her social media of past controversial posts on a range of conspiracies. She has claimed, absurdly, that she did not know the Rothschilds, to whom she attributed the space lasers, were Jewish. Really?

What else would one know about the Rothschilds other than that they are Jewish, very wealthy, and preceded Soros at the heart of antisemitic conspiracy theories?

Greene also claims to have renounced what the Washington Post described as her “public backing of QAnon”, that popular, if murky, conspiracy theory that has been described as “a Nazi cult, rebranded”. Greene now insists that a plethora of statements praising Q and endorsing QAnon “were words of the past. These things do not represent me."

Smart politicians do well to distance themselves from such beliefs. Australia's prime minister, Scott Morrison, when confronted recently by ABC’s Four Corners investigation into his close relationship with Tim Stewart, one of Australia’s leading QAnon proponents, objected that “I find it deeply offensive that there would be any suggestion that I would have any involvement or support for such a dangerous organisation.”

Astute readers will note that Morrison did not reject the charge. He was merely offended by it. However, according to Four Corners, Morrison has adopted the QAnon phrase “ritual sexual abuse” in his speeches.

The ABC reported that “Tim has been described on social media by Scott Morrison as an ‘amazing guy’. Lynelle Stewart worked for her ‘forever friend’ Jenny Morrison at the official Prime Ministerial residence in Sydney, Kirribilli House, as a household attendant until late last year.”

Morrison has, so far, avoided the kind of overt dog whistles to the far right that were a hallmark of Donald Trump’s presidency, and he certainly has not made the kind of “kooky” and “deranged” statements that have gotten Marjorie Taylor Greene in hot water. But Australia is fortunate to have independent journalists who are willing to explore such associations.

Whatever we think of Greene’s apology or Morrison’s umbrage, antisemitic extremists have found their way into the US Congress and may be welcome at Kirribilli House as well.

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Photo: Marjorie Taylor Greene (Erin Scott/Reuters)

About the author

Dan Coleman

Dan Coleman is a former member of the Carrboro, North Carolina Town Council, and a former political columnist for the Durham (NC) Morning Herald. He is the author of Ecopolitics: Building A Green Society. He lives in Melbourne.

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