In recent years, graphic and violent memes have become the norm for the fringes of both sides of the divide, but especially so on the right. Almost as disturbing as the memes themselves is the growing willingness to normalize them as accepted parts of our discourse. Donald Trump bears much of the blame for this, having retweeted–and hence, endorsed–a number of these memes.
We got another example of this on Friday. After being upbraided for sharing a meme that appeared to be a graphic call for violence against three progressive Democratic congresswomen, a Republican woman who is all but certain to represent a congested-red district let it be known she didn’t understand what the fuss was about.
Marjorie Taylor Greene raised a lot of eyebrows when she won the Republican nomination for Georgia’s 14th district, which stretches from the Tennessee border to the outer northern suburbs of Atlanta. This was mainly because of her open and unashamed belief in QAnon, the bonkers conspiracy theory centered around the idea that one of Trump’s advisers is using 4chan and 8chan to dribble out information about Trump’s plans to expose a nest of pedophiles encompassing leading lights in the Democratic Party and Hollywood.
Unfortunately, with her victory in a runoff for the Republican nomination, Greene more than likely punched her ticket to Washington. The 14th has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+27, making it the third-most Republican district in the Eastern Time Zone. Trump won it in 2016 by a staggering 75-22 margin over Hillary Clinton. Short of Joe Biden defeating Trump in a 49-state landslide, Greene is likely on her way to being the first Republican woman elected to a full term in Congress from Georgia.
Not surprisingly for a woman running in a district that is redder than a Georgia Bulldogs jersey, Greene is essentially running as Trump in a skirt. Unfortunately, she seems to have taken on some of her dear one’s worst habits. She proved that beyond any doubt early Thursday morning, when she shared a meme depicting her holding an AR-15 next to a composite picture of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Greene used this meme to declare that she would be the “Squad’s worst nightmare” in Congress.
No, this isn’t snark. Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter got a screenshot.
AOC, Omar, Tlaib, and the fourth member of the Squad, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, have been the right’s pet hates for the better part of two years now. But this meme from Greene is several miles over the line.
Rachel Bade of The Washington Post saw this meme for what it was–a graphic and violent threat.
So did one of the meme’s targets, Omar. On Friday, she took to Twitter to claim that the meme had already sparked death threats.
By Friday afternoon, the meme had been deleted, per a message from Facebook spokesman Andy Stone.
Incredibly, as late as Friday morning, users who reported the meme were getting replies that it didn’t violate Facebook standards. Apparently it took a congresswoman publicly claiming she’d received death threats for Facebook to come to its senses.
When Greene saw this, she replied, in so many words, “What’s the big deal?”
Greene apparently didn’t know that a good chunk of that violence in Minneapolis was started by a white supremacist agent provocateur. And even without that to consider, did Greene seriously believe that it’s at all acceptable to post a meme that any reasonable person would see as a violent and graphic threat?
Apparently, Greene’s answer to that question is “yes,” judging by how she googled down in a post to her Facebook followers on Friday afternoon.
Greene claimed that she was merely sharing a meme created by one of her supporters and wailed that liberals were trying to “cancel” her over a meme. She claimed that they were only coming after her because she was “an unapologetic conservative Republican woman” who is an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment. She then engaged in more deflection, claiming that the real issue was the riots that ensued in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
If Greene doesn’t understand why people were outraged over this meme, then her moral compass is fundamentally warped. Posting a graphic and violent meme is bad enough, but directing it at the people who are all but certain to be your colleagues this time next year is outrageous. And to suggest that people are just upset because you want to “save America, stop socialism” is equally outrageous.
Sadly, Greene is yet another reason why legislatures need to get out of the redistricting business. When the great majority of congressional districts are drawn in a way that the district’s minority party cannot possibly win, you inevitably wind up with outright scoundrels in the House. Greene is a particularly egregious example of this problem. If Greene believes that this was “just a meme,” she is not fit to clean the House, let alone serve in it.
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