The U.S. House of Representatives voted 230-199 Thursday evening to remove Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, from the House Education and Labor Committee and House Budget Committee. Greene has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory, which bizarrely claims that Democrats and celebrities are part of a satanic cabal of pedophiles that controls the world. Greene’s social media posts have threatened violence against Democrats and have disseminated anti-Semitic, anti-Black and anti-Muslim tropes. She also has promoted 9/11 conspiracy theories. Eleven Republicans, including Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Bucks County, joined Democrats in voting to strip Greene of her committee assignments. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, of Lancaster County, voted in Greene’s favor.
So, this is apparently how things work now.
A member of Congress can undermine an election — hours after a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — and support the cancellation of nearly 3.5 million Pennsylvania Democratic votes, including the ballots cast by 115,847 Lancaster County residents.
And then propose, with a straight face, legislation called the Voter Confidence Act.
The gaslighting is almost impressive.
You’d think Smucker would want to avoid any effort that would remind people of his role in seeking to subvert the November presidential election — at least until some time had passed. That he might be a little sheepish, even a bit ashamed, that he’d advanced the aims of the domestic terrorists who sought to stop the Jan. 6 Electoral College count in Congress, and, in the process, killed a U.S. Capitol Police officer.
But as we’ve noted before, shame doesn’t seem to be in Smucker’s vocabulary.
How else to explain his vote Thursday evening to keep Marjorie Taylor Greene — a person who’d asserted that the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and other mass shootings were false-flag operations aimed at undercutting the Second Amendment — on the House Education Committee?
As Rabbi Jack Paskoff of Lancaster asks in today’s LNP | LancasterOnline Perspective section, how do Republicans rationalize giving Greene, “who preaches hate, who shows no interest in facts, who accepts conspiracy theories as truth, a say in how children in this country would be educated?”
But Smucker believes it’s the Democrats whose behavior, in seeking to remove Greene from her committee assignments, was “egregious.”
In reply, one person on Twitter wrote, “Lloyd, imagine if someone said Nickel Mines never happened. And beyond that chased a victim of it down the street. Would them doing it before or after they were elected change what they did?”
That was a reference to a video, produced by Greene herself, of her chasing Parkland survivor David Hogg as he walked toward the U.S. Capitol in March 2019 — less than two years ago — and calling him a “coward” because he refused to talk to her. This was just 13 months after he was forced to hide in a school closet as 14 of his fellow Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and three staff members were killed by a gunman.
Nickel Mines, of course, was the 2006 shooting at an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County in which five girls were killed and five others were wounded.
We would find it hard to forgive someone who mocked the pain of that terrible tragedy and refused to apologize, even when pressed. But Smucker, apparently, is more forgiving.
In January 2019 — just two years ago — Greene created a petition calling for the impeachment of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for “crimes of treason.” As CNN reported, Greene posted a video on Facebook promoting her petition in which she said “it’s a crime punishable by death is what treason is. Nancy Pelosi is guilty of treason.”
“In another Facebook Live broadcast from inside Pelosi’s office on February 22, 2019,” CNN reported, “Greene suggested the House speaker will ‘suffer death or she’ll be in prison’ ” for her “treason.” Later that day, in another broadcast, she suggested California Rep. Maxine Waters was “just as guilty of treason as Nancy Pelosi.”
In a January 2019 post, Greene liked a Facebook comment that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove Pelosi.
So this woman publicly championed the execution of those who are now her colleagues.
Imagine if one of your colleagues called for you to be shot in the head. Would you want to work with such a person? Would you be comfortable in the workplace? Would you expect your bosses to remove such a threat from your workplace? Would you expect your co-workers to support such a move?
A ‘very regular American’
On Twitter, Lloyd Smucker said he accepts the apology of Marjorie Taylor Greene. But Greene didn’t actually apologize.
Wearing a mask emblazoned with the words “Free Speech,” she took to the House floor Thursday to assert that the offensive things she’s said and done were in the past, before she was elected to Congress.
She described herself as “a very hard worker,” “a very successful business owner,” a “very regular American.”
She said she simply stumbled across QAnon on the internet and, in an impressive use of the passive voice, added, “I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true.”
She blamed the media and “cancel culture” for how she is being portrayed, and claimed she’s the victim of an effort to “crucify me in the public square.”
She said, essentially, that everyone makes mistakes — as if embracing 9/11 conspiracy theories, supporting political executions and hounding school shooting survivors were common errors.
As Roll Call pointed out, Greene said Thursday that “ ‘school shootings are absolutely real’ and that ‘9/11 absolutely happened,’ which did not contradict her conspiracy theories about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School or her questioning whether a plane hit the Pentagon on 9/11.”
We listened carefully to Greene’s speech Thursday but didn’t hear the apology Smucker so eagerly accepted.
Even if she had apologized, it wasn’t Smucker’s place to decide whether it was sufficient. Smucker is not the parent of a school shooting victim or a school shooting survivor. His life hasn’t been threatened by Greene.
But some of his constituents are. Maybe he should care more about them, and how they may have been harmed by the kind of conspiracy theories and lies that Greene has perpetuated.
This also needs to be pointed out: Forgiveness cannot be granted on behalf of other people. And it cannot be granted until the transgressor accepts responsibility and offers a genuine apology for the harm he or she has caused.
Greene tweeted this Friday: “I woke up early this morning literally laughing thinking about what a bunch of morons the Democrats (+11) are for giving some one like me free time. ... Oh this is going to be fun!”
That is certainly not remorse. That is chilling.
This week, the Senate will begin the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.
He was impeached for having incited the Jan. 6 insurrection. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-most powerful Republican in the U.S. House, nearly lost her position as GOP conference chair for voting in favor of impeachment.
In a powerful statement, Cheney laid out Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors that horrific January day: “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing.”
“None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Can you imagine Smucker speaking with such moral clarity and strength? With such courage?
Smucker, of course, voted against impeaching Trump. And on Twitter on Thursday, he mostly railed against Democrats whom he thought should be punished instead of Greene.
Accountability is for other people and other political parties, apparently.
We find this deeply troubling. Accountability should matter to someone representing Lancaster County in Congress. So should truth. And so should basic human decency.