By now it ought to be a commonplace that the death of irony is inversely proportional to the rise of hypocrisy. Keep in mind it wasn’t all that long ago that “The Squad” (also known as “AOC plus 3”) was regarded as radical. That was because they believed in really radical stuff, like universal healthcare and racial equality and dreadful things like that.
With the gun-packing Marjorie Taylor Greene’s past coming back to haunt her — videos of her menacing David Hogg, trying to get Ilan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to retake their Congressional oaths on a Bible instead of a Qu’ran, advocating the murder of Democrats on Facebook, etc. — the word “radical” has now been redefined.
But it has a Republican redefinition, and that makes this particular stripe of radicalism somehow okay. Well, maybe not okay, but just not as bad and a whole lot mellower — at least in the unique perspective of current Republican leadership. It didn’t stop them from giving Greene a coveted spot on the House Education Committee. You read that right. Education. Of America’s youth. Meanwhile Republicans are still blushing — all the way to the bank.
Greene came out swinging (of course). It’s part of the new Republican playbook: when caught doing something shameful, play the victim. CNN, according to Greene, is “fake news” because they quoted her past Facebook posts and showed a video of her harassing David Hogg.
The “Party of Personal Responsibility” is shocked — shocked! — that one of their own should be subjected to the indignity of being held responsible for their own past. They actually dared to quote her. The very idea that CNN would quote her verbatim is suspiciously like them daring to reproduce Donald Trump’s tweets on TV. They really are that unfair. (Hypocrisy is, after all, the final brick in the wall of ignorance.)
If this sounds familiar, it is. CNN was Donald Trump’s bete noire from the start of his one and only misbegotten term as president of the United States. It was (according to my memory, help me out here, brothers and sisters, if I have this wrong) the first major news entity that Donald Trump publicly recast as “fake news.”
Think of Marjorie Taylor Greene and her QAnon-believing colleague Lauren Boebert as mini-Trumps, the inevitable consequence of the one term loser’s toxic tenure. Think of Republican response as tacit approval of their antics, in lockstep with Trump’s acquittal last year and his coming acquittal this year.
Meanwhile House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy plans to take Greene aside and give her a talking-to. No doubt Senator Susan Collins is “concerned.” Others will stay silent if they know what’s good for them. It’s the same old story. All morality is seen through a strictly partisan filter.
This is why Donald Trump and many of his followers must go to prison. Nothing short of a stiff sentence will do, preferably prison for the rest of his life. Failing that Trumpism will thrive and flourish and poison the American government to the point that America will become unrecognisable in a few short years.
When there is no consequence for behaving like a raging lunatic then raging lunatics will carry the day. Donald Trump stumbled upon a new source of power. There are millions of Americans who are in love with hate, and Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert are the latest exponents of that hate. Donald Trump has reached out from the political grave and given us a potentially lethal new generation of Republicans.
Once Trump and his co-conspirators are in prison his voice will be silenced. Prison is a black hole from which very little information escapes. What’s more, imprisoning Trump will give a chilling effect to his stripe of radicalism. As long as Republicans see Trumpism as a road to power with no serious consequences they will continue to travel that road, and in increasingly greater numbers. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.