Stefanik should confront the hate-mongers in her own party

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik speaks to reporters following an election for House Republican Conference chair on Capitol Hill as House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, left, and House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise look on. Alex Wong/Getty Images/Tribune News Service

This editorial appeared in the Post-Star on May 27:

GLENS FALLS — It’s wearisome to have to call out the ignorant, hateful comments of people like Marjorie Taylor Greene over and over, but someone has to.

And those in positions of authority, like our congresswoman, Elise Stefanik, who could make the Greenes of the world as irrelevant as they deserve to be, refuse to do the right thing. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, after five days of silence, finally muttered that Greene’s comments were appalling then segued into an attack on Nancy Pelosi. Stefanik, who has repeatedly expressed her indignation over the behavior of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also waited five days to criticize a colleague who compared wearing a mask during a pandemic to being forced to identify yourself as a Jew so you could be ostracized, terrorized and murdered. Finally, on [May 25], Stefanik sent out this tweet: “Equating mask wearing and vaccines to the Holocaust belittles the most significant human atrocities ever committed. We must all work together to educate our fellow Americans on the unthinkable horrors of the Holocaust.”

Notice she doesn’t mention Greene. Instead, she turns a particular instance of terrible behavior by a single congresswoman into a universal message — an opportunity for us all to do better. In the same way, she answered the “Black lives matter” cry for justice and humanity with the meaningless “All lives matter” response.

Greene first made her ridiculous, odious comparison in a radio show, then defended it [last] week: “Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi’s forced Jewish people to wear a gold star,” she wrote, referring to a story about a supermarket’s policies. She also said about pandemic prevention, “Their attempts to shame, ostracize, and brand Americans who choose not to get vaccinated or wear a mask are reminiscent of the great tyrants of history who did the same to those who would not comply.” [May 25], after a teeny bit of blowback from Republican leadership, she wrote, “I never compared it to the Holocaust, only the discrimination against Jews in early Nazi years.”

It’s hard to decide whether Greene’s ignorance or her maliciousness is worse, but the traits are inseparable.

Stefanik’s bromide about everyone working together to learn about the Holocaust is an insufficient response. This specific person and her specific comments should be condemned. Republican leaders like Stefanik have real power to curb Greene, by expelling her from Congress or, at least, expelling her from the Republican Party conference in Congress.

But taking the No. 3 Republican leadership position in the House, as Stefanik recently did, has not brought with it the ability to stand up for what is right — that has been left to, for example, Liz Cheney, who quickly branded Greene’s comments as “evil lunacy.” Cheney is the person Stefanik supplanted as House GOP No. 3.

These comments aren’t just talk. The embrace of extreme language to demonize people you disagree with, the inaccurate characterization of political opponents as Nazis or socialists or fascists or terrorists or a “woke mob” undermines our ability to govern ourselves. Greene is part of something dangerous that is widespread in our country now — a movement that embraces fantastical theories and works to shred the social order by, for example, fighting against pandemic prevention.

Countering this danger is more important than winning any election. Unfortunately, Stefanik and other Republican leaders are willing to tolerate “evil lunacy” if it helps them pick up a few seats in Congress.

Maybe even that is giving them too much credit. Maybe McCarthy and Stefanik and many others aren’t being tactical but think it’s fine to shrug and move on when a congressional representative compares the national effort vs. a pandemic with the Nazi Party’s mass murder of Jews. It’s not fine, but the only way we will get more out of Elise Stefanik than a shrug on Twitter is for the voters in her district who elected her to let her know this is unacceptable.

Local editorials are written by the Post-Star editorial board, which includes Ben Rogers, president and director of local sales and marketing; Brian Corcoran, regional finance director and former publisher; Will Doolittle, projects editor; and Bob Condon, local news editor.

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(10) comments

hermit thrush

the only transgression from their own side that republicans won't abide is going against the party. even when common sense and basic honesty and decency demand it. it's a broken, rotten party.

zeitgeist

The ongoing implementation and toleration of hate-mongering and fear-mongering by Stefanik and the like is nothing short of constituent abuse.

We know child sex and domestic abuse. Let's apply what we know to constituent abuse.

KRobbins

What the PS and the libs don’t respect is that crazy people need representation too.

Leave Marjorie alone!

Pitbull

The only hate mongers Elise needs to confront are the democrat liberals who hate her. Their constant repeat of Elise hate is ineffective blather but annoys nonetheless. This idea that Congresswoman Stefanik should direct her attention at Marjorie instead of Nancy is wishful thinking. It only works on milquetoast conservatives like Mitt and GW.

Charlie McGrath

Democrats called Trump and Republicans those same names but this author gets to claim that Republicans called Democrats those names. Elise must confront these democrats and call them out.

Joseph Savoca

Michael Flynn wants a coup.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/31/politics/michael-flynn-qanon/index.html

Sidney Powell wants a new inauguration.

https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2021/05/31/michael-flynn-dallas-texas-event-sot-vpx.cnn

KRobbins

Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser appeared before a group called (no, really) God and Country Patriots on Memorial Day weekend. He opined that it would be great if we had a coup in this country like they had in Myanmar. So, basically these patriots are on the side of people who pulled off a government overthrow in another country. I’ve said before and will say now how overwhelmed I am by the courage of the protesters in Myanmar. They risk being either shot and killed by their actions or taken prisoner and tortured.

It’s no stretch to say that Stefanik, Greene, Gaetz and the whole list of fake patriots/fake Christians that make up the GOP would also be on the side of the generals there just like Flynn. Jesus’ message and mission was to stand against the imperialism of Rome. He would stand with the protesters in Myanmar.

hermit thrush

good column.

Eagle24

The GOP squandered an opportunity to do the right thing multiple times...believing that the capitol mob MAGA and rally MAGA gang speak for the rest of the electorate. Until that passes, and some sense of Reagan conservatives return...they'll pay the consequences... sad...

bobdog01

She was given this leadership role not because she is a leader but because she is an obedient follower.

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