A new Daughter of the Confederacy: The hate pageantry of Marjorie Taylor Greene

The Southern Pride of Marjorie Taylor Greene

By Chauncey DeVega

Senior Writer

Published May 23, 2023 9:00AM (EDT)

Marjorie Taylor Greene (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Marjorie Taylor Greene (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a true daughter of the South in some of the worst ways possible.

Last week, the Georgia congresswoman showed the world, again, that she is a white supremacist who represents the worst of (white) Southern culture and history when she lied about Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., who is a Black man, after they had a public "argument" outside of the Capitol. Greene claimed that she was terrified and felt threatened by her Democratic colleague.

Marjorie Taylor-Greene's lies are the same ones that white women across the South (and other parts of the country) told about "giant negroes" and "black beast rapists" and other "black predators" in order to get thousands of innocent Black men (and Black women and Black children) lynched. In all, the South that Marjorie Taylor-Greene honors is one of white supremacy in its varied forms such as white-on-Black chattel slavery, Jim and Jane Crow, lynchings, and other examples of white racial terrorism, white violence, and racial authoritarianism more generally. This South is the place that historian Joel Williamson famously described as having "a rage for order" that means white domination and control over Black and brown people in order to keep them in "their place." 

Greene is a product of the racist culture and white supremacist environment of Forsyth County, Georgia.

Marjorie Taylor Greene's South is a place where white-on-Black chattel slavery was a "benign institution" and the Black slaves were "happy", and the white slavers were "benevolent" and "kind". Greene's world is also a place where the white supremacist fantasies of "Gone with the Wind" and the white utopia of "The Andy Griffith Show" and Mayberry were actually real. Marjorie Taylor Greene's Southern dreams are an opine and nostalgia for a reborn Confederacy and other cursed fantasies of Whiteness and the Trumpocene and MAGA movement's promises and threats to "Make American Great Again" – which in practice means "Make America Fully White Again." 

The reality of Marjorie Taylor Greene and the other neo-Confederate's fantasies and self-soothing lies about the South were laid bare by Alexander Stephens, who was the Vice President of the Confederacy, in his infamous 1861 "Cornerstone Speech" where he said proudly that:

Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew."

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

In a video posted on Twitter last week, Greene bragged about beginning the process to impeach President Biden for non-existent crimes. In that video, which was recorded in her garage while she lifted weights, a cooler adorned with a large Confederate flag sticker can be seen in the background. The Confederate flag is a white supremacist hate symbol that takes on further meaning within the context of Greene's years-long pattern of white supremacist behavior, speech, and politics. She has spoken at "white nationalist" gatherings and claims to be a defender of supposedly downtrodden white men. She has also spoken proudly about Confederate statues and other monuments. She has shown herself to be an anti-Semite who spouts vile conspiracy theories about "Jewish space lasers" and QAnon and "globalists." 

Greene also believes in the white supremacist "birther" conspiracy theory and its lies that Barack Obama, America's first Black president, was a fraud and usurper. She supported Donald Trump's Jan. 6 coup attempt and the attack by his terrorists on the Capitol, which was an attempt to end the country's multiracial democracy.

In many ways, Greene is a product of the racist culture and white supremacist environment of Forsyth County, Georgia. In an excellent essay at the Daily Beast, which merits being quoted at length, Kali Holloway details how:

When Marjorie Taylor Greene, the new congresswoman known for her racist and anti-Semitic rants, was a senior at South Forsyth County High School in 1992, a few dozen Black marchers made their way through the Georgia county's rain-slicked streets singing old protest songs and carrying signs reading "We Shall Overcome" and "Black and White Together." The route was flanked by hundreds of snarling white racists waving Confederate flags and shouting ″Go home, n—-ers."

The marchers had been marking five years since the 1987 "Walk for Brotherhood" drew international condemnation to all-white Forsyth County. Newspaper accounts describe protesters being pelted with so many "rocks, bottles and mud thrown from a crowd of Ku Klux Klan members and their supporters" that they were forced to abandon the two-and-half mile route. Forsyth County had maintained an unwritten whites-only policy dating to 1912, when white vigilantes lynched a black man and drove out nearly all of the African American residents. The county's reputation as too dangerous for Black folks to even drive through—a courthouse lawn sign in the 1950s and '60s warned "N—-er, Don't Let the Sun Set on You" — was well earned. ''I have been in the civil rights movement for 30 years," Hosea Williams, an acolyte of Martin Luther King Jr and organizer of the Forsyth County march, told the New York Times in 1987. "I'm telling you we've got a South Africa in the backyard of Atlanta, Georgia.''

Holloway continues: 

Forsyth County today is nearly one-quarter Asian and Hispanic. But only 4 percent of its denizens are Black, in a state where one-third of the people are Black. The county was recently ranked one of the richest counties in Georgia, its grand houses and country clubs obscuring a history of Black bloodshed and standing on sites once occupied by Black churches and homes. That land was long ago stolen from Black folks during a campaign of terror that has been called "the most successful racial cleansing in U.S. history."

The Confederate flag is often reflexively defended with claims of "Southern pride" and "states' rights" and that it represents "heritage, not hate." Such language are deflections and slogans that are intended to hide and rewrite the South's real and complex history of white-on-Black slavery and racial violence and terror. Such claims are also attempts to whitewash history in order to absolve White America of any agency and responsibility for how it created and continues to benefit from a system of institutional, systemic, and interpersonal racism and white privilege.

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Moreover, "Southern pride", as commonly used, is language that is narrow, myopic, and a product of the white racial frame as it intentionally ignores and excludes being legitimately proud of the long Black Freedom Struggle and Civil Rights Movement, the democratic triumphs of Reconstruction, abolitionists, slave uprisings and rebellions, maroonage and other forms of resistance that tore down the white supremacist order. The Southern pride of Marjorie Taylor Greene and other such neo-Confederate reactionaries and revanchists also does not celebrate other things that the sons and daughters of the South could potentially be proud of such as a rich multiracial and multicultural history that gifted America and the world with amazing literature, food, and music and other forms of cultural vibrancy.

It is not a coincidence that the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups in America, Europe, other parts of the world claim the Confederate flag as their banner and symbol: they know its true meaning and power.

Of course, because the Confederate flag is a symbol, it can potentially have other meanings beyond hatred and white supremacy. For example, the Confederate flag has often been interpreted as being a symbol of a common working class Southern identity across the color line. Antiracist and other progressive and left groups have also used the Confederate flag as a way of "taking back" Southern history from white supremacists and other defenders of white-on-Black domination and hierarchy and other "traditional" values. 

There are also quotidian ways that different individuals and groups relate to and make sense of the Confederate flag and the idea of the South outside of any explicitly political intent. For example, there are many Black folks, like me, who are fans of Southern Rock and groups like Lynyrd Skynyrd. In arenas across the South and other parts of the United States, white, Black, and brown people have cheered on their favorite professional wrestlers – who yes, wore the Confederate flag, and in some cases even carried one with them to the ring. And there are many Black people of a certain age and generation who watched the "Dukes of Hazzard" TV show and got excited when they saw "Bo" and "Luke" driving their car, the "General Lee."

The potential complexities of how different people relate to the Confederate flag does not change the fact that as deployed by the post-civil rights era Republican Party and "conservative" movement (and now the MAGAites and other Trump supporters and larger white right) that flag is a symbol of white supremacy and a revolutionary neofascist project to end the country's multiracial democracy.

What will Marjorie Taylor Greene likely do next in her 21st-century Age of Trump lynching theater and larger public performance?

Of course, Greene will claim to be a victim of some type of "Woke" bogeyman and "anti-white" "mob" and "the left" who want to hurt and "replace" "patriotic" White Americans like her.

But I would not at all be surprised if Marjorie Taylor Greene records a video or has a press conference where she proudly shares her United Daughters of the Confederacy certificate and then starts mouth bloviating – and crying – about "heritage, not hate" and "Southern pride" and "reverse racism" and "white guilt." 

In this age of democracy crisis (that Trumpocene) and resurgent white supremacy and neofascism and all of its violence and trouble, a good and decent white person who happened to have such a certificate or other such objects would put it away in the back of their closet in a box or some other such place out of sight. Even better yet, as an act of protest, that United Daughters of the Confederacy certificate could be publicly burned.

Perhaps a Confederate certificate or other such things are part of a person's family history that they discovered during a genealogy project or were hand-me-downs from a now-dead relative? Those are facts of history that should be reflected upon for what they reveal about our country's complexities and our relationships to it, but not celebrated as something noble or good.

But Marjorie Taylor Greene will not reflect upon her love of the South and what it really means in the context of America's real history. Instead, she will use her Southern fantasies, dreams, fictions, and lies as a weapon in a project of obtaining more white power and ending America's multiracial pluralist democracy. "The South Shall (indeed) Rise Again," carrying a Confederate flag, wearing a red Trump MAGA hat, and being lifted aloft by the Republican Party. History does indeed repeat itself — first as tragedy and then as farce.

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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Commentary Democracy Crisis Fascism Jamaal Bownan Marjorie Taylor Greene Race Racism White Supremacy