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The problem with Jim Jordan's slippery-slope defense of Greene

The question isn't where the proper response to political radicalism ends; the question is where it starts.
Image: House Judiciary Committee Holds Second Hearing In Trump Impeachment Inquiry
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, questions Intelligence Committee Minority Counsel Stephen Castor and Intelligence Committee Majority Counsel Daniel Goldman during the House impeachment inquiry hearings on Capitol Hill on Dec. 9, 2019Doug Mills / Pool via Getty Images

This afternoon, the full U.S. House will begin a debate on a measure stripping Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) of her committee assignments, though I think we can already guess how Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is going to vote. TPM noted the far-right congressman's latest defense of his new colleague from Georgia.

Out of all the reasons to decry Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's (R-GA) inflammatory and conspiracy-ridden remarks, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is instead shaking in his boots over ... taking disciplinary action against Greene supposedly setting up a slippery slope for "cancel culture"?

Appearing on Fox News, Jordan was reminded that plenty of out-of-office Republicans, including Karl Rove, have condemned Greene's madness. The Ohio congressman suggested that they're missing the point.

"No one is condoning the remarks she has made. I've not heard any Republican say that is appropriate," Jordan said. "That is not the issue. The issue is once this starts, tell me where it ends? Who is next?"

This is what's popularly known as a slippery-slope argument. As far as the GOP congressman is concerned, to punish Greene for endorsing political violence and touting dangerous conspiracy theories would open the door to ... something bad.

Jordan appears to have all of this backwards. The question isn't where the proper response to political radicalism ends; the question is where it starts.

While too much of contemporary Republican politics is dominated by ridiculous conspiratorial thinking, Greene offers a unique case. At issue is an elected member of Congress who's expressed support for violence and murder targeting U.S. elected officials. She dismissed 9/11 and school massacres as hoaxes. She's harassed federal lawmakers and at least one survivor of a school shooting. She targeted religious minorities. She peddled bizarre nonsense about fire-causing space lasers.

It's against this backdrop that congressional Democrats believe the proper course is to do what Republican leaders did to Iowa's Steve King two years ago: respond to radicalism by removing Greene from her committee assignments.

Jordan asked, "Who is next?" Why, are there some other members of Congress who've expressed support for violence and murder targeting U.S. elected officials? Is there some kind of hidden pro-assassination caucus? Because if so, then yes, they should be the next ones to also lose their committee assignments. This need not be complicated.

The point is to establish some kind of floor. It's not unreasonable to set a threshold for propriety and agree that politicians who've expressed support for putting "a bullet in the head" of elected American officials have failed to meet that threshold.

The follow-up questions for Jordan are obvious: is there literally no limit to what a politician can say without consequence? And if the answer is that some limits exist, the question then becomes even more straightforward: why are Jordan and his far-right cohorts convinced that Greene's radicalism didn't go too far?