Marjorie Taylor Greene Tweets No More
A permanent suspension by Twitter reveals the truth: MTG's entire job in Congress is to be a troll
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One of the most cheerful bits of news I have seen in the New Year is the New York Times headline: “Twitter Permanently Suspends Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Account.” As of nooon today, Facebook has followed suit with a 24 hour time-out. It appears that the rockin’, sockin’ conspiracy-mongerin’ fabulist from Georgia’s 14th now consigned to the invisible hell of GETTR, Telegram, and Gab for spreading one too many pieces of disinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.
Greene has been a busy girl in the year since she was sworn into office. She did not have a hard road to Washington: her district, created in 2012, has never elected a Democrat. In 2020, Greene was one of nine candidates, and the only woman, in the Republican primary. Out of almost 109,000 votes cast, Greene emerged victorious with 47%, fewer than half of them. She then soundly defeated Democrat Ken Van Ausdal, who, under the pressure of a toxic campaign and a crumbling personal life, stopped campaigning after a month.
What Greene became famous for was taking Trump’s performativity to a congressional campaign. Touting her experience as a businesswoman (she was part-owner of a CrossFit box, the exercise cult that promotes fitness through punishing routines syuitable to a prison yard or loading dock), Greene gained national attention through her adherence to conspiracy theories and posing in front of images of the Squad with an automatic weapon.
Greene is a perfect example of the nationalization of campaigns that both parties are engaging in. While Democrats have long tapped into identity politics, funding Congressional, gubernatorial, and Senate campaigns around minority and human rights, increasingly, Republicans fund campaigns through culture wars issues: hence, the explosions of outrage about critical race theory and politicians’ families posing for Christmas photos armed to the teeth.
While Trump merely hinted at his support for QAnon follower, Marjorie Taylor Greene became the first official elected to national office who openly embraced QAnon. As Davey Alba writes Greene’s only platform was Q-Anon, and on the campaign trail she called the mythical Q a “patriot” who was “worth listening to.” Since then, Greene has
heavily promoted the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Mr. Trump, tweeting in January that there was “MASS voter fraud on a scale that should terrify every American regardless of political party.”
But it was Ms. Greene’s false proclamations about the coronavirus, including opposing vaccines and masks as tools to curb the pandemic, that finally got her suspended from Twitter. In July, Ms. Greene argued that Covid-19 was not dangerous for people unless they were obese or over age 65, and said vaccines should not be required.
In August, Ms. Greene said on Twitter, “The F.D.A. should not approve the covid vaccines.” She said that there were too many reports of infection and the spread of the coronavirus among vaccinated people, and that the vaccines were “failing” and “do not reduce the spread of the virus & neither do masks.”
The recent offense, which was a mischaracterize a non-authoritative Covid-19 database as proof that the federal government is lying about the pandemic, was Greene’s “fifth `strike,’” Alba writes, “which meant that her account will not be restored.”
Someone needs to tell Twitter that the sports metaphor is failing: only in politics, not baseball, are there fourth and fifth strikes. But Greene has had almost two years of strikes: she has posted something utterly false at least every day. Yes, spreading disinformation about a national pandemic, as well as the vaccines and protocols created to address it, is dangerous: this practice on the right is responsible for millions of American deaths. But it is also dangerous to spread wild political rumors about the government that promote and incite violence. It is a mystery to me why it has taken captastrophes—over 800,000 dead, J6, lethal violence by unhinged people—for the social media giants to enforce their terms of service.
And Marjorie Taylor Greene has not been entirely banned from Twitter. In the spirit of banning the account and not the person, her official congressional account, @RepMTG, is still active. Greene uses that channel to troll Kathleen Landerkin, the Deputy Warden of the District of Columbia jail, who she and other Republican extremists accuse of “torturing” charged J6 conspirators who are awaiting trial. These conspirators, she claims, are “abused worse than terrorists at Gitmo.”
At CNN, Chris Cillizza wants to know: without her social media accounts, what does Marjorie Taylor Greene do all day? It’s an intriguing question, because a month after arriving in Congress, Greene was kicked off of all her committees, not just because of QAnon and veiled threats to assassinate other politicians, but because of her insistence that the Parkland School shootings and 9/11 were staged by the federal government and that the California wildfires had been started with space lasers controlled by Jews.
Committees are the bulk of the work of being in Congress: it’s also how you learn to legislate. So what Greene does is troll. Sometimes she just trolls one person. She shouts at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in public, challenging her to debates about, essentially, nothing. She called Democrat Cori Bush a racist because Bush talks publicly about racism: Bush finally had to move her office because Greene refused to wear a mask and constantly berated her in the hallway.
According to Cillizza, Greene’s other activity is to file motions to adjourn the House
a time-wasting maneuver with no real objective other than to annoy her colleagues. Four times in the space of two weeks in late February and early March of last year, Greene filed four separate motions to adjourn. Each time, every single member of the House had to come to the House floor and vote on whether the House should go out of session. Greene's tactic failed every single time.
Even the legislation Greene sponsors are trolls. So far she has introduced sixteen pieces of legislation that include acts to give Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse a gold medal, to eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, to prohibit any requirements for vaccination, and to impeach Joe Biden (four times.) She has not introduced a single piece of legislation that would benefit her district or her state.
In any case, what does this all mean? And—other than the satisfaction of seeing enemies defeated—why should we care?
One thing that is worth considering is that the party is deliberately running lunatics in safe Republican districts as an actual strategy for disseminating anti-government propaganda. When Madison Cawthorne was sworn in to Congress along with Greene, and announced that he would be hiring a comms-heavy staff, jaws dropped. But what if that is the point of some of these people? Republicans haven’t legislated since the George W. Bush presidency. So if the point of having all those congresspeople is to simply sign off on judges and military spending bills, why not designate a few of them to whip the faithful up into a never-ending frenzy?
What I am suggestions is that Cawthorne, Greene, Lauren Boebert and others like them function much like the “enforcers” that hockey teams hired. Their job was not toscore goals: it was to hurt people, start fights, and get other players ejected. It was a humiliating job, but there was always someone who loved the spotlight enough to take it.
The big question is, then, would it matter if Twitter and Facebook decided to stop profiting off of this kind of behavior of political “enforcers,” and I think it would. We have the example of Donald Trump who, while he may find investors for his own media company, may not find that it gets him the platform that he used to have. It’s not just that he isn’t president anymore, it’s that he has virtually no platform outside of the partisans who are already committed to him. A year of trying to leverage right-wing platforms has diminished his impact dramatically.
Why? Because Twitter and Facebook created, and continue to create, the partisans, while Gab, Telegram, Parler, GETTR, and other platforms receive them. The political movement that birthed Trump and all of the subsequent Trumpettes like Greene flourished precisely because they were spreading their message to a general audience, radicalizing people. General audience platforms inadvertantly solidified the loyalty and clannishness of right-wing converts by putting them in struggle with friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family.
That isn’t what platforms built for the already radicalized do. So the question is: once Marjorie Taylor Greene no longer has a national platform, will she be of any use at all to the Republican party?
The New Republic’s Michael Tomasky is out with a terrific profile of Representative Jamie Raskin (MD-8), who has been a central player in holding Trumpism to account. “I think maybe it’s not an accident that the fates saw to it that Raskin and Donald Trump were both elected to federal office on the same night in 2016,” Tomasky writes: “that just as certain dark forces sent to Washington democracy’s destroyer, a man who would have appalled the Founders with his dishonesty and proud ignorance and naked self-dealing, other forces sent democracy’s defender—an admirer of Thomas Paine and William James and the social movements that have pushed this country to live up to its stated principles, an utterly incorruptible public servant, the epitome of the kind of person the Founders envisioned running our government.” (January 3, 2022)
Ghislaine Maxwell always liked big houses: so now she is going to the Big House for her role in funneling underage girls to Jeffrey Epstein. As Naomi Fry wrote in The New Yorker, Maxwell’s affect during the trial reflected a contempt for her accusers and the whole proceeding, which more or less sums up how she and Epstein were capable of doing such horrible things in the first place. “This was a relationship in which one kind of brutal self-interest—a desire for material wealth—meshed perfectly, disastrously, with another,” Fry comments, “shunting to the side any kind of moral consideration.” (December 30, 021)
Max Greenwood at The Hill hones in on the ten Senate races Democrats must win to stay in control of that body. They are all battleground states, except Florida, which I think we all can concede is now Republican. And some are those very same states where Trumpists cooked up their conspiracy theories: Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona. But have those attacks on local Republicans damaged them irreparably? One can only hope. (December 26, 2021)
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