Originally published February 10, 2021
This past week, the Majority Democrats took a truly unprecedented step when they removed Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments after the Republicans chose not to do so. To be against such a removal is not to be pro-Greene; the situation is not nearly that binary. No one who is against the House Democrats’ action should allow himself to be tarred with the same brush that the media is attempting to paint Greene with.
The best way to understand Greene, and many of the conspiracy-prone members of the Republican Coalition, is to go deeper down the rabbit hole of The Matrix analogy. It has long been a right-wing argument that to “take the red pill,” as Neo does in The Matrix, is to “free your mind” to the lies and deception all around you created by the media, Hollywood, universities, and the Democrats. While it is certainly true that, once you grow to understand how these institutions operate to steer the American people to the left, you see things very differently, it is not where the story ends.
In the sequel to The Matrix, we see many more characters of varying degrees of “faith.” The society is a complete “red pilled” society, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t disagreements. Some think that the protagonist, Neo, is a god. They pray to him, they beg him to watch over their children, and they bow to him. Others think that he is merely a very gifted individual, but not the savior. This analogy can extend to how Republicans view the world, as well.
The mainstream media, like the Matrix, is an elaborate lie designed to trick people into agreement and complacency. This can be seen in nearly every story that they choose, or don’t choose, to cover. From COVID to Climate Change to racism to student loans, everything is calibrated and curated to achieve their cultural and political ends. This is not conspiracy-speak. Molly Ball in Time Magazine lays this out and celebrates how this coordinated effort gave Biden the election. So when people see through this by “taking the red pill,” they can sometimes get carried away.
This is what drives so many people, Greene included, to ridiculous conspiracy theories such as QAnon (coverage of Q itself is incredibly specific and always manages to be prevalent at times where it can hurt and embarrass as many Republicans as possible). A conspiracy theory that claims that Democrats are Satan-worshipping pedophiles makes more sense when the people who tell you it’s a lie also cover up for child-abuse at the hands of Democrat super-donor Jeffrey Epstein. It’s hard for ABC to have credibility with this crowd when they buried Amy Robach’s story about a Harvey Weinstein accuser for three years.
Marjorie Taylor Greene was caught up in this in 2017 and 2018 when she lost all trust in the media to properly inform her about President Trump. While this disillusionment is completely justified, what she did next was not. In addition to praising Q, she has expressed belief in other online rhetoric, such as there was no plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11 and that California wildfires were started by satellites funded by the Rothschilds. These are crazy and untrue conspiracy theories.
That doesn’t mean that the opposition research into Greene or the coverage of her is journalistic objectivity. The media needed a new villain to make the face of the Republican Party, and this freshman Congresswoman from a deep-red district who got in because of an eight-person primary was the perfect candidate. So headlines from The Washington Post, CNN, and The New York Times screamed that the Republican Party was now “the Party of Marjorie Taylor Greene,” despite having no power within the caucus.
Contrast this with the actual new faces of the Democratic Party, the Squad, who debuted in the last election cycle. Republicans didn’t elevate them to leadership positions, Democrats and the media did. Ilhan Omar appeared on the cover of a Time special issue of powerful women in May of 2018 alongside Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was deemed “the future of our Party” by DNC Chair Tom Perez. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appeared with both Omar and Ocasio-Cortez on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. All of this was in the very beginning of their terms in Congress. The Right did not elevate them, the Left did. Anyone who has been paying attention to these Representatives can see that they spread more hatred, lies, and division to a far wider audience than Greene ever did. Yet they continue to be praised and elevated into greater positions of power and authority within the House and the Democratic Party.
What was the Republican reaction to the revelations about Greene? Mitch McConnell said that Greene’s “loony lies and conspiracy theories” are a “cancer” to the GOP. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy released a statement that he “condemn[s] those comments unequivocally.” Then the Republicans went to Greene to hear her side of the story.
As she stated on the House floor, she was angry about the Russian collusion conspiracy theory propagated by the media and Democrats for years that she got sucked into other conspiracy theories. “So later in 2018,” she said, “when I started finding misinformation, lies, things that were not true in these QAnon posts, I stopped believing it.” She essentially went too deep into the “rabbit hole” of the Red Pill. She believed the conspiracies that form as an alternative to media lies when they “curate” the truth. She then, according to her statement, had a change of heart.
As these events occurred a few years before she was elected, the Republicans decided to give Greene the benefit of the doubt and allow her to keep her committee assignments. Whether or not that was the right move is a debate worth having, but irrelevant because of what happened next. The Democrats, as the Majority Party, stripped her of her committee assignments.
This was an unprecedented and radical move by the Democrats, who have never applied the same punishment to their own. They didn’t punish Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib when they spout anti-Semitic tropes and blood libels on Twitter. They didn’t punish Maxine Waters when she told people to “gather a crowd” against members of the Trump cabinet when they are seen in public. They didn’t punish Chuck Schumer when he told a mob outside the Supreme Court that Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh “won’t know what hit [them] if [they] go forward with these awful decisions.” They didn’t punish Adam Schiff for his countless CNN appearances where he claimed to have evidence that President Trump colluded with Russia in 2016, something that the Mueller Report completely debunked. They don’t punish any of their Members who spout lies and conspiracies while in office, let alone prior to their terms.
So now they’ve broken that seal. Like nuking the Judicial Filibuster in 2013, which led to Trump and Republicans nominating and approving 234 federal judges, including three Justices of the Supreme Court, Democrats will one day come to regret doing this, as well, when Republicans find themselves in the Majority again. The only thing that is guaranteed, however, is that if Republicans do go ahead and strip a Democrat like Ilhan Omar of her Foreign Affairs Committee position, the Media will say that the only reason they did so is because of her race, religion, and sex. This will cause more distrust, sending more people to seek out alternative sources, find more conspiracy theories, and start this whole thing all over again.