Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—AOC for short—is an outspoken Democrat from New York City.
She is the most recognizable face among the young, left-leaning members of Congress. She also receives more death threats than any other member.
Last week, she described hiding in a colleague’s bathroom in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 when she heard someone shouting “Where is she?”
Given that an anti-government mob was rampaging through the building at the time, she should be believed when she said that she thought she would die that day.
The voices turned out to be those of Capitol police officers. The fear is real, however, because vitriol has crossed the line from protected political speech to verbal assaults.
A majority of the U.S. House of Representatives, almost all Democrats, last week took the unprecedented step of stripping Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) of her committee assignments because she crossed that line.
The freshman representative has a history of advocating the use of violence against Democratic politicians. In a 2020 campaign poster, she holds a military-style rifle amid images of three Democratic women, including AOC. Words say she will be “The Squad’s worst nightmare.”
Greene has not disavowed those sentiments. Last week, she doubled down, attacking the press and claiming to be a victim of censorship, all while standing in front of a microphone in a broadcast to the world.
Greene is being called a problem for the Republican Party. She, and those like her who practice a particularly toxic brand of confrontation politics, are actually a problem for the entire nation.
Politics is a rough business. Harsh words are often thrown around in the heat of policy debates and election campaigns. Comparing that kind of hyperbole to the violent words and images used by extremists is a false equivalency.
When politicians are demonized as enemies or imminent dangers and when claims are made that such dangers must be resisted by any means, including arms, it is no wonder that violent mob actions are the result. The language is just as dangerous as crackpot conspiracy theories.
Greene should apologize for her calls for violence. Republicans should have backed her removal from House committees.
The Democrats’ nullification of her committee assignments was the appropriate response. No representative should ever have to worry about how far another’s supporters might go.
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