United States Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, noted for her random assaults on fellow legislators, was confronted by Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Green responded with what has been labeled a “racially loaded attack.”
Greene ranted: “Jamaal Bowman, shouting at the top of his lungs, cursing, calling me a horrible name, calling me a white supremacist, which I take great offense to! That is like calling a person of color the N-word!”
Is it really?
The “N-word,” as Greene calls it, is about how a person was born, how they were created by God. “White supremacist” is a label applied to people because of how they choose to believe and act.
Greene didn’t choose to be born white, but she has chosen to embrace white victimhood.
“She is an affluent, privileged white woman dressing herself in the mantle of victimhood of those who have suffered victimization in their bodies.”
She performs, in the villain’s role, the perfect expression of toxic white victimhood. She embraces the “N-word” as if she can claim her own persecution in a like manner to African Americans. She is an affluent, privileged white woman dressing herself in the mantle of victimhood of those who have suffered victimization in their bodies.
As an insider to the power of the establishment, she pretends to be an outsider. She acts as if she has been mistreated, abused and attacked for who she is, how she was born. This not only allows her to ignore and mock white people’s central role in structuring a society that has degraded, dehumanized and victimized persons of color, but also to position herself as a person likewise treated.
How she can claim to be excluded when she is in a position of power is hard to imagine.
Sorry, Marjorie Taylor Greene! You do not get to claim you are a victim. You are being criticized for the politics you represent, the people you hang around with and for your stated views on whiteness. You are not being dehumanized, degraded and mocked.
You have no idea what the “N-word” has meant over the centuries. You are callous, misleading and deeply flawed in your attempted historical analogy.
What are we to make of Rep. Greene, a white woman, a member of the establishment, an affluent person, attempting to present herself as a victim?
First, empowered marginality is a position that allows white persons to erase historical violence and, in turn, crudely mimic the identity politics of truly marginalized groups. Greene performs here all the elements involved in Lost Cause ideology, attacks on Critical Race Theory and “wokeness” as she acts out the devastating attack of conservatives on the realities and facts of American history. She has the nerve not only to discount the history that created the “N-word” but the audacity to claim she is now the one being so horribly mistreated.
“She has the nerve not only to discount the history that created the “N-word” but the audacity to claim she is now the one being so horribly mistreated.”
Her act pronounces a contradiction she seems not to notice. Her conjuring of the “N-word” is an implied confession that there is an American history of systemic racism. She has reached for a metaphor that condemns her rather than providing her with the requested sympathy.
Her victimhood ploy is a brazen, heartless attempt to disavow that hegemonic whiteness still fundamentally structures society. She would have a better argument if she suggested that as a woman she was still oppressed by white male hegemony. Instead, here is an entitled white woman demanding to be made whole again because she thinks people are treating her the way white people have treated African Americans.
Greene’s victimhood is a makeup job, a fake claim. Her therapeutic victimhood has nothing in common with the material, fleshly, bodily victimhood connected with historical, structural oppression.
Let us compare Greene’s performative act of suffering with the bodily experience of Civil Rights activist Mattie Lou Hamer of Mississippi.
Hamer and a group of her fellow Civil Rights workers were arrested and placed in the Winona, Miss., jail. Hamer later remembered: “And I could hear somebody when they say, ‘C’ain’t you say yessir, nigger? C’ain’t you say yessir, bitch?’ And I could understand Miss Ponder’s voice. She said, ‘Yes, I can say yessir.’ He said, ‘Well, say it.’ She said, ‘I don’t know you well enough.’ She never would say yessir and I could hear when she would hit the flo’, and then I could hear them licks just soundin’. … But anyway, she kept screamin’ and they kept beatin’ on her and finally she started prayin’ for ’em, and she asked God to have mercy on ’em, because they didn’t know what they were doing. And after then. … I heard some real keen screams, and that’s when they passed my cell with a girl, she was 15 years old, Miss Johnson, June Johnson. They passed my cell and the blood was runnin’ down in her face.”
Is that the kind of persecution the Georgia representative believes she has experienced?
Zora Neale Hurston called Southern Black women the mules of the world; they did whatever needed doing. For Greene to claim this connection to actual victims is the most brazen sort of hypocrisy. Even though Greene is largely unscathed by racial violence and trauma, she insists on calling the ambulance for a paper cut. That’s how absurd her claim of victimhood is.
The only way to understand Greene is to see her as a choreographed performer of noble suffering attempting to recover a “lost America.” Her contrived performance sustains her ego. She manages to mask hatred and envy as victimization and abasement. If one is entitled, and they believe they have been robbed of their culture, identity and country, they feel claims of victimhood are theirs as a right.
This is the same force driving white Christian nationalism across America today. It is the dynamite lit by Trumpism and embodied in evangelical Christianity.
There is no connection between being called a “white supremacist” and the “N-word.” “White supremacist” is a label that applies to people guilty of a particularly noxious form of racism. The “N-word” encapsulates centuries of oppression by whites against African Americans.
Marjorie Taylor Greene is no victim.
Rodney W. Kennedy is a pastor and writer in New York state. He is the author of 10 books, including his latest, Good and Evil in the Garden of Democracy.
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