Stop mocking Marjorie Taylor Greene

It's not just trolling. Republican threats of civil war should be taken seriously

By Chauncey DeVega

Senior Writer

Published March 2, 2023 6:00AM (EST)

US Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) yells as US President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, February 7, 2023. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
US Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) yells as US President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, February 7, 2023. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wants you to laugh at her. In fact, your laughter and mocking are among the Georgia Republican's greatest weapons.

Laughter is a type of dismissive behavior. Moreover, many people laugh when they are scared, hysterical or in denial. To laugh at someone is to not take them seriously. Laughter is also a way of gratifying one's ego and asserting some type of superiority. When one laughs or mocks a person they generally assume that the other person cares or is somehow vulnerable to such acts.

Marjorie Taylor Greene wore a white dress to Biden's State of the Union address in an attempt to look like "the Chinese spy balloon". People laughed at her. She heckled President Biden during his State of the Union address. People laughed at and condemned her tacky and crass behavior.

Marjorie Taylor Greene does not care.

Her fans in MAGAland do not care about such laughter and condemnation – in fact, they view such behavior as validation and encouragement. The laughter is kin to the "liberal tears" they love to drink until they soil themselves.

Greene has shown herself to be a white supremacist, a white Christian nationalist, and a white victimologist. She is also an antisemitic conspiracist who believes in "Jewish space lasers", "globalists" and QAnon (which is just an updated version of blood libel and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion). The laughter and mocking have not dissuaded her from such beliefs and behavior.

Republicans, for their part, have rewarded her antics. With the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives, Greene is now a member of the Committee on Homeland Security and one of the most powerful members of Congress. The laughter did not stop her rise to power.

He who laughs last laughs loudest. The laughter of Marjorie Taylor Greene and the other American fascists will be very deafening indeed.

The laughter did not stop her seditious machinations and coup plotting. Greene is an insurrectionist who supported Jan. 6, and in total is an enemy of democracy who, per the Constitution, should be removed from office.

In an essay at The Atlantic, Seyward Darby warns:

So please, don't laugh at Greene. Be angry at her choice. Be angry that she encouraged violence against her Democratic colleagues. Be angry that so many Americans agree with her. There is nothing funny about who Greene is, what she stands for, or what she and other conspiracists are capable of. 

Greene is now threatening a second Civil War (what she and other Republicans have euphemistically described as a "national divorce").

None of this is funny.

Greene is claiming that she was misunderstood and that she is the real "victim". Such a tactic is textbook stochastic terrorism: the threat is made and then denials are issued after the message is circulated and received by the members of the public who are being radicalized into political violence and terrorism. It follows a much larger pattern of right-wing threats of political violence and a second civil.

As part of her threats of a second Civil War, Greene also threatened to take away the civil rights of people from "blue states" who dare to move to "red state" America, in essence treating them as potential enemies and a fifth column, who should not be allowed to vote for 5 years until they demonstrate their loyalty to the new order.

Destroying the Union and creating a 21st-century Confederacy has long been a fantasy, threat, and goal of white supremacists, neo confederates and other members of the white right and those who are allied with them.

Peter Wehner, also at the Atlantic, sounds this alarm:

[I]f Republicans call Greene out, they will offer only gentle rebukes. Mostly, they'll want to ignore her comments, change the topic, and try to redirect attention to Democrats. During the past half a dozen years, Republicans have perfected whataboutism.

What the rest of us learned during the Trump era is that a party led by craven men and women—some of them cynical, others true believers, almost all afraid to speak out—will end up normalizing the transgressive, unethical, and moronic.

As Wehner notes, the mainstream pundit class largely rejected and mocked Greene's threats of a second Civil War. Several "traditional" Republicans even issued their obligatory condemnations. In keeping with the constant (and irresponsible) churn of the 24/7 news cycle, most of the political class and chattering class have moved on from her most recent "controversy." Collectively, the response to Greene was dismissive. Some observers tried to rebut Greene by showing how the logistics of a second Civil War and secession are unworkable. The lazy mainstream media types defaulted to their usual horserace journalism, polls, and catch-all "culture war" framework. In all, Greene's civil war threats were treated by the mainstream news media and political class as just another moment, the traffic-generating and clickbait outrage of the day instead of as something far more serious.

To simply move on from Marjorie Taylor Greene's threats is emblematic of a much larger failure by the mainstream news media – the centrists especially – and the larger political class with their slavish commitment to normal politics and empirical reality to accept and understand that the neofascists and other right-wing authoritarians and fake populists are engaged in a political project that emphasizes ideas, emotions, and dreams in service to a radically destructive revolutionary project to remake American and Western society. Such forces reject the consensus reality that the liberal democratic tradition and its adherents are wedded to. And while liberals and democrats and traditional conservatives appeal to public policy and material reality the neofascists and their forces only care about corrupt power and wield emotions in a battle over culture and identity.

Time is malleable in this vision as well; History is to be broken and rewritten and remade in service to the neofascist dream. In the book Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate, historian Alexandra Minna Stern explains:

If examples of the civil rights and feminist movements of the 1960s are mentioned, it is to reproach them as conjurers of the falsehood that diversity is good and racial equality is an achievable and desirable goal. To upstream a white national future, alt-right writers somehow must downstream the past, one that is not in sync with mainstream, let alone progressive renditions of American history.

Alt-righters employ nonlinear conceptions of time when interpreting political events and the viability of white nationalism going forward…The obsession with time is a crucial dimension of the alt-right imagination. As the temporal horizon closes in and speeds up, white nationalists want to push a primordial past and a techno-utopian future into a present they feel is both slipping out of their hands and perhaps within close reach.

So what is the world that Marjorie Taylor Greene and other Republicans want to (re)create in the 21st century?

The Confederacy.

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America's native form of fascism, the Confederacy offered a white supremacist terror and surveillance society where white "Christian" men rule over all others uncontested and ordained by "God's" will. The 21st-century Confederacy, like the original, would also be a plutocracy where the white rich and monied classes would control society without restrictions or limits. Black people, other non-whites, women, gays and lesbians, and any people deemed the Other and "inferior" to "real Americans" would have their human and civil rights taken away.

The neo-confederate ideology is rooted in a fantasy-lie of what is known as the Lost Cause where the evils of the American slaveocracy and its horrible violence and the South's traitorous secession to defend that ignoble institution is imagined as something good and noble and whose defenders were heroic instead of as agents of an antihuman white supremacist terror regime.

At its foundation, Greene's endorsement of a "national divorce" and second Civil War is a threat of white supremacist violence –the first civil war killed some 750,000 Americans – against Black people and others who would be targeted for death, re-enslavement, and misery on a massive scale.

We have just experienced a nightmare here in America (and the world) where what many "centrists" and "mainstream" political thinkers and voices said was impossible came true. If someone in 2015 or 2016 had told you that a professional wrestling heel, fake billionaire, willful ignoramus, white supremacist cult leader and TV host, a man credibly accused of rape many times, a failed casino owner and real estate developer, con artist would become president of the United States, make choices in response to a pandemic that would kill at least a million Americans, bring the country and its democracy to a breaking point, attempt a coup, surrender America's interests to its enemies such as Russia, commit an endless number of serious crimes while in office, be impeached twice and almost win reelection, and then announce a second presidential candidacy all the while not being held responsible for his crimes many people would – and did — mock any person willing to say such a thing. They labeled it "Trump derangement" syndrome. We all know what happened next.

Public opinion polls and other research show that a majority of Republicans believe in the white supremacist great replacement conspiracy theory. A version of fears about "white extinction" and "Black domination" were common across White America during the antebellum era and were a driving force behind the South's secession and then the end of Reconstruction and the rise of Jim and Jane Crow.

Other polls show not insignificant levels of support among Republicans for the Confederacy and a belief that secession was justified. Political scientists and other researchers have repeatedly shown that a plurality, if not outright majority of Republican voters, support Trump's coup attempt on Jan 6 and the terrorist attack on the Capitol. That research also shows that many millions of Trumpists and Republicans and right-wing independents support using political violence to remove President Biden and the Democrats from office in order to restore Trump's regime.

On Jan. 6 Trump's shock troops overran the Capitol and they carried the Confederate flag -- which is a symbol of white supremacy -- while doing so. During the first Civil War, the Confederates never achieved such a thing, but their descendants did so only two years ago.

Marjorie Taylor Greene and the other Republican fascists and the larger white right and their allies are very dangerous. Your laughter does not change that fact. Your laughter will not save you from them or the new American nightmare they are forcing into being. He who laughs last laughs loudest. The laughter of Marjorie Taylor Greene and the other American fascists will be very deafening indeed.

By Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega is a senior politics writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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