Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is attempting to present herself as someone who is not full of hate for marginalized people after receiving intense bipartisan backlash for her repeated comments comparing pandemic-era public health recommendations to the Holocaust.
The Georgia Republican and QAnon conspiracy theorist said at a press conference on Monday that she was sorry for those comments. She visited the Holocaust Museum the same day and said she had learned more about the horrors of the Nazi genocide against Jewish people.
It’s unclear why Greene had to visit the museum ― or announce that she had visited the museum ― before apologizing for her anti-Semitic comments. Most people are already aware of how horrific the Holocaust was. And that should have included the lawmaker, who revealed on Monday that she had visited the notorious death camp Auschwitz when she was 19 years old.
Greene came under fire last month for her multiple efforts to equate COVID-19 vaccine guidelines to the Holocaust, a shocking comparison that earned rebukes from members of both political parties.
On May 25, she tweeted an article about a Tennessee market allowing vaccinated workers and customers to enter the store unmasked. Employees wear a logo on their nametags to signify they’ve been inoculated and are allowed to go maskless.
“Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi’s forced Jewish people to wear a gold star,” Greene wrote, although the Nazis used stars as a mark of stigma and not of privilege.
The lawmaker also criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s mask mandate for members of the House.
“We can look back a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and ... were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany,” Greene, who received a formal warning for not wearing a mask on the House floor, said during a radio interview. “This is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is taking about.”
Greene also tweeted an article about the University of Virginia allowing only vaccinated students on campus in the fall, with the caveat that students can get an exemption for religious or health reasons as long as they agree to be regularly tested.
The lawmaker said that it “appears Nazi practices have already begun on our youth.”
After Greene’s comments, the Holocaust Museum published an open letter signed by 51 Holocaust survivors to American leaders and the public. The museum also resurfaced earlier articles about why Holocaust analogies are dangerous and why some Jewish people were forced to wear a yellow star.
“We know firsthand the danger of unchecked anti-Semitism. This targeted violence is happening as we also watch with great dismay a persistent and increasing tendency in American public life to invoke the Holocaust for the purpose of promoting another agenda,” the survivors wrote.
“It is deeply painful for us to see our personal history ― the systematic destruction of our families and communities and murder of six million Jewish men, women and children ― exploited in this way. What we survived should be remembered, studied and learned from, but never misused.”
Major voices in Greene’s party criticized her remarks. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Greene’s words “outrageous” and “reprehensible.”
“Marjorie is wrong, and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing masks is appalling,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in May.
“The Holocaust is the greatest atrocity committed in history. The fact that this needs to be stated today is deeply troubling,” he continued. “Let me be clear: the House Republican Conference condemns this language.”
It’s unclear if fellow Republicans’ comments are what motivated Greene to visit the museum and set up a press conference about it. The optics have been in the works for about a week, according to Punchbowl News.
Greene’s Holocaust comments were in keeping with a long line of racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic and anti-Semitic remarks she has made. She once shared a conspiracy theory that a prominent Jewish family that is often the target of anti-Semitic attacks used a space laser to start a California wildfire in 2018.
Just days after her Holocaust comparison, Greene broke out in what she called her “really bad Mexican accent” while accusing Democrats, without evidence, of helping Mexican cartels. She’s also repeatedly targeted Muslims ― including colleagues like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) ― and stalked and harassed several members of Congress to the point of one needing to relocate offices out of safety concerns.
While Greene withdrew her comparison of mask mandates to the Holocaust on Monday, she refused to take back her comparison of the modern Democratic Party to the National Socialist Party of the Nazi era; would not admit knowing that many QAnon followers are Holocaust deniers; and rejected the idea of denouncing former President Donald Trump’s suggestion that there were good people on both sides during the neo-Nazi riots in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Greene was removed from House committee assignments in February for liking social media posts about executing Democrats and peddling conspiracy theories. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) said he is introducing a resolution on Wednesday to censure her, which requires a majority vote in the House.
But despite Republican leaders’ public statements condemning Greene’s comments, they still don’t think her actions are shameful enough to result in expulsion. Expelling Greene would require a two-thirds vote of the House GOP caucus.