Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Epiphany

The morning of the vote to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her House committee assignments and clearly suffering from Republican-friendly fire, she — behind her “Free Speech” mask — publicly declared that some horrendous things she had said (pre-election) “do not represent me.”

So, she was “allowed to  believe.”  But she doesn’t actually (anymore) believe that a plane didn’t fly into the Pentagon on 9/11. She doesn’t actually (anymore) believe that the murderous shootings at the Parkland high school were a “false flag” event.  Words of the past. And, “not my “values,” she said! Many Republicans bought into it — Matt Gaetz going so far as to creepily declare that her speech “was so good I almost had to smoke a cigarette afterwards.”

This is not a political commentary, nor a statement of the Trumpian politics that caused the huge majority of Republicans in the House to vote against stripping her of her committee assignments.  It’s about the nature of Taylor Greene’s supposed withdrawal (if you can call it that) of her repulsive remarks that created the raging firestorm in the first place.

Just imagine a skilled, or even not-too-skilled, litigator cross-examining Taylor Greene about her offending remarks that no normal person of either political party has been willing to justify: Rep. Taylor Greene, since you say that these prior statements are not your values, did you ever believe that “putting a bullet” in Nancy Pelosi’s head was warranted?  Did you ever believe that the Parkland shootings were a “false flag” event? Did you ever believe that a prominent Jewish banking family used space lasers to start California wild-fires?  Did you ever believe that the Clintons arranged for J.F. Kennedy, Jr’s plane to crash because he was a Hillary political opponent?  A litigator, maybe a prosecutor would even employ the time-tested:  Are you lying now, or were you lying then?

Suppose, though, she says yes, she once believed these things: And so the questioner asks: Do you believe them now?  Given her House apologia, she would have to say no, or at the very least demur.  When did you stop believing them? Was it the day after your election?  Was it the day before the House vote, the day when House Republican Leader McCarthy told that you had to renounce those previously stated “beliefs” if you were to stand any chance of maintaining your committee seats?  And before McCarthy’s “Come to Jesus” conversation with you, did you consider renouncing those comments?  After all, “not your values,” right? (Objection)

Frankly, this is too easy. I hate to say it but if Taylor Greene said she actually believed these things and adhered to them, I would respect her more — notwithstanding their absolute lunacy.  At least she wouldn’t have rejected them for the purely cynical reason that McCarthy used to persuade her to withdraw (if that’s the right word) her remarks — I guess, with her fingers crossed.

Still, there’s something far greater at issue. Taylor Greene ties herself closely to Jesus and invokes, in seeking defense for herself, Jesus’s admirable quality of extending forgiveness. The knot is so tight that she actually claimed publicly at the Capitol Hill lectern that she was being  “crucified . . . in the public square for words that I said.” Jesus, notably, never whined about being crucified, and he actually was. But Taylor Greene?

Nonetheless, accepting, for purposes of the argument, that she is, in fact, being crucified — for what? Her current views? Her prior views? Her unwillingness to come clean and admit that the hate she was evangelizing was only uttered to gin up her base? Or is it her unwillingness to acknowledge publicly that she had naively, but earnestly, actually believed her previous comments?

She has made no apology at all, despite McCarthy’s public suggestion that there was during a private, unrecorded, off the record, meeting of the Republican caucus the day before the vote.  She may have said that she was wrong about some of what she previously believed, but nothing like, “I was wrong to have expressed those horrendous views without later renouncing and truly apologizing for them.” Still, the horribly irresponsible and hateful things she spouted aside, how could she ever have justified in her own mind the acceptability of putting a bullet in Pelosi’s head?

I’m reluctant to further bring up religion, but Taylor Greene drew first blood here. Jews, Christians, Muslims and so many others, believe in repentance (tshuvah) although, of course, it is called by different names. But repentance doesn’t mean “Yeh, I said it (or did it). I don’t subscribe to it anymore. I was wrong then.”  Rather, repentance requires a fundamentally wholehearted acknowledgment that “I was wrong. I’m sincerely sorry for the harm I caused. And critically, I commit to never doing that kind of thing again.”  It means, too,  and perhaps foremost, prostrating oneself before the offended individuals, offering true remorse.

Does anyone seriously believe that Taylor Greene will ever express genuine remorse to any of the people she hurt?  Working with the solid assumption that she never asked forgiveness from Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker shouldn’t hold her breath waiting. Not for a second.

Taylor Greene’s supposed mea culpa is a charade. There’s a gaping flaw in Taylor Greene’s epiphany, if she ever truly had one, about her earlier beliefs or remarks (or both). She doesn’t ask forgiveness because she doesn’t believe she did or said anything wrong.

Genuine remorse? It seems it’s not one of Taylor Greene’s “values” either.

About the Author
Joel Cohen is a white-collar criminal defense lawyer at Stroock in New York and previously a prosecutor. He speaks and writes on law, ethics and policy (NY Law Journal, The Hill and Law & Crime). He teaches a course on "How Judges Decide" at Fordham Law School and Cardozo Law School. He has published “Truth Be Veiled,” “Blindfolds Off: Judges on How They Decide” and his latest book, "I Swear: The Meaning of an Oath," as well as works of Biblical fiction including “Moses: A Memoir.” Dale J. Degenshein assists in preparing the articles on this blog.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Stroock firm or its lawyers.
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