When Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene got into trouble for promiscuously deploying Nazi and Holocaust analogies in denouncing anti-pandemic measures earlier this year, it looked briefly like she had learned her lesson. After receiving a rare reprimand from her chief enabler, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and touring the Holocaust Museum, Greene issued a public apology for failing to understand the uniqueness of that great catastrophe and the inappropriateness of analogizing it to anything else. But when, in response to a question from Ben Jacobs, she failed to apologize for comparing the Democratic Party to the Nazi Party, you had to wonder if she really “got it.”
Now, just a few weeks later, we know she did not, as the Washington Post reports:
“Biden pushing a vaccine that is NOT FDA approved shows covid is a political tool used to control people,” Greene tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “People have a choice, they don’t need your medical brown shirts showing up at their door ordering vaccinations. You can’t force people to be part of the human experiment….”
Greene was responding to a speech earlier Tuesday in which Biden said, “Now we need to go community-by-community, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, and oft times door-to-door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus.”
Where to start with this gibberish? The three major vaccines being distributed in the USA were approved by the Trump administration FDA under an emergency use authorization, because waiting for the full approval process to play itself out would have resulted in many, many millions of deaths — not to mention more of the damage to the economy that people like Greene have so often deplored. It is remarkable how well these vaccines have worked with few (given the vast scope of the vaccination campaign) adverse effects. Instead of attacking those seeking to increase the pace of vaccinations — the key to making sure we don’t have a national recurrence of COVID-19 in the near future — as “medical brownshirts,” Greene should be grateful that someone in authority is less irresponsible than she is.
Then there is her complaint that COVID is “a political tool used to control people.” It’s unclear whether Greene thinks the 600,000 deaths in this country alone that are attributable to COVID represent a hoax, or that those deaths and millions more are acceptable in order to preserve the precious freedom to infect oneself and others with a coronavirus. Either opinion is, to use a technical term, despicable.
That’s how infuriating Greene is even before you get to the issue of Nazi analogies. Why does she keep going there? Clearly, she has bought into the historically illiterate idea (also promoted by her Alabama colleague Mo Brooks) that because the Nazis were the “National Socialist Party” and Republicans like to call today’s Democrats “socialists,” Hitler and Biden must be soulmates. Yes, there has long been a libertarian meme treating anyone who believes in a large and powerful government as being of “the Left,” but no one (other than libertarians) has ever taken it seriously. The Nazis killed every socialist (and communist) they could get their hands on and viewed the entire political Left as part of a subhuman Jewish conspiracy to enslave the planet. Whatever else it was, Nazism (and the broader fascist phenomenon that shared most of its features other than exterminationist anti-Semitism) was a phenomenon of the political Right, motivated by a desire to restore the past glory of militaristic nationalists via counter-revolutionary violence — just as communism was (and is) a phenomenon of the political Left, focused on wiping out the very economic, religious, and social forces on which fascism relied. While no one today should appropriate the Holocaust and its perpetrators for political agitprop, it’s safe to say authoritarian-minded conservatives should be especially wary of this moral hazard.
All of this is to say that if Marjorie Taylor Greene needs a mendacious slur to apply to Biden and Democrats, she should stick to calling them “communists,” a term she recently applied to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And much as Greene — with her gun-wielding, her violent rhetoric, and her lust for conspiracy theories — reminds me on occasion of those who wanted to “make [Italy, or Spain, or Hungary, or France, or Belgium] great again” in the 1930s, I would never compare her to the Nazis, who eternally stand alone — or so we all hope.