If Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wanted to be a more respected and effective federal lawmaker, the Georgia Republican has some options. She could, for example, decline invitations to white nationalist events. The extremist congresswoman could also stop promoting Russian propaganda.
Greene could even avoid accusing her colleagues of supporting pedophilia.
But the GOP lawmaker apparently can’t quite help herself, publishing a tweet on Monday night that accused three Republican senators — Maine’s Susan Collins, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, and Utah’s Mitt Romney — of being “pro-pedophile.” Greene’s proof: The three senators had “just voted for” Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination.
To the extent that reality has any meaning, the three senators hadn’t “just voted for” Jackson — it was a procedural vote, not a vote on the nominee herself — but let’s all agree for now that this wasn’t the most important detail.
And while it’s true that sometimes people publish messages to Twitter that they later regret, but this does not appear to be one of those instances: Greene appeared on a conservative television talk show yesterday and again said the three senators from her own party are “pro-pedophile.” For good measure, the Georgia Republican added in the same interview that Democrats are “the party of pedophiles.”
Obviously, such rhetoric is insane. That does not, however, make it irrelevant.
As part of the GOP effort to slander Jackson, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee attacked the high court nominee’s record on sentencing in child pornography cases. The baseless smear was quickly and thoroughly discredited — even National Review described the allegations as “meritless to the point of demagoguery” — and responsible observers moved on.
Irresponsible observers did not. On the contrary, Greene and others on the right have seized on this as part of a larger, hysterical effort. As a Washington Post analysis explained, “The red scare is now the kid scare.”
At this point ... insinuations about Democrats embracing pedophilia or downplaying sex crimes victimizing children are not simply the political fringe making its way into the Capitol. Instead, “pedophile” or “groomer” — a term used to describe people who try to prepare children for abuse — has of late replaced “socialist” as a preferred, political pejorative. Long-standing potency of elevating fears about the safety of children has combined with specific political fights like the Jackson nomination and Florida’s new legislation limiting instruction about non-heterosexual relationships to spur a new rhetorical focus.
The same Post analysis added that talk of pedophiles and child porn is becoming “pervasive” across much of the right, with conservative media outlets and prominent voices such as Donald Trump Jr. pushing the same smear.
Yes, American politics has taken yet another turn — to the point that casually throwing around baseless accusations of supporting pedophilia is now a part of our discourse.
Indeed, a sitting member of the United States House of Representatives — a Republican in good standing, who’s poised to be rewarded by her party next year — assumed she could get away with accusing three senators from her own party of being “pro-pedophile,” without any meaningful pushback, because that’s where the contemporary right is now.
And so far, Greene’s assumptions appear correct. House GOP leaders made no effort to denounce her slander yesterday, and Senate GOP leaders made no effort to defend Collins, Murkowski, or Romney.
The party’s thinking appears obvious: Perhaps if Republicans simply ignore the defamatory garbage, the underlying problem will go away. If only that were true.