”Representative Greene tried to begin an argument with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and when Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tried to walk away, Congresswoman Greene began screaming and called Rep. Ocasio-Cortez a terrorist sympathizer,” Ocasio-Cortez spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said in a statement. “We hope leadership and the Sergeant at Arms will take real steps to make Congress a safe, civil place for all Members and staff—especially as many offices are discussing reopening. One Member has already been forced to relocate her office due to Congresswoman Greene’s attacks.”
(That member is Rep. Cori Bush, who changed offices after a confrontation over mask-wearing in the Capitol led to Greene describing her as “the leader of the St. Louis Black Lives Matter terrorist mob who trespassed into a gated neighborhood to threaten the lives of the McCloskey’s.”)
After Ocasio-Cortez declined to give Greene the public fight she wanted, Greene told a group of reporters and onlookers, “She’s a chicken, she doesn’t want to debate the Green New Deal,” adding, “These members are cowards. They need to defend their legislation to the people. That’s pathetic.”
Ocasio-Cortez has spoken at length on the Green New Deal—see here, here, here, and here, for starters—but she doesn’t owe Greene specifically a face-to-face on it. Greene is not an expert. She doesn’t have a role on a relevant committee that might consider the issue, because, oh, right, she was stripped of her committee assignments.
Greene’s motivations actually aren’t hard to figure out here. She lives for social media clout that leads to more attention and more fundraising, and Ocasio-Cortez has so many more social media followers than Greene, from Twitter to Instagram to Facebook. Greene is basically trying to leech clout off of Ocasio-Cortez, and she doesn’t care how stupid she looks to any reasonable observer, because the people she’s trying to reach aren’t reasonable. For instance, in a previous effort to get Ocasio-Cortez to debate the Green New Deal, Greene said “If she chickens out, then she shows who she really is: a scared little girl that is pretty stupid and doesn’t know anything about the economy or economics.”
Ocasio-Cortez graduated cum laude from Boston University with a degree in international relations and economics, but more to the point she has showed her mastery of policy throughout her time in Congress. She is reliably sharp and on the ball, from committee hearings to Instagram videos. Greene is … not. Her disdain for policy shows in everything she does. She just wants to make noise and get attention, and while her hypocrisy almost goes without saying, it is worth noting that the same person chasing Ocasio-Cortez around accusing her of being too scared to debate had a news crew threatened with arrest for daring to ask her a question.
But the problem is, Greene’s efforts to make noise and get attention are potentially dangerous to other people, given the violent far-right movement she’s a part of, and her past efforts to incite violence against political opponents, and her past harassment of teen survivors of mass shootings, and her past embrace of QAnon and antisemitism. That’s why Ocasio-Cortez’s spokeswoman raised security concerns in her statement, and probably why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday that the House Ethics Committee should look into what she described as “verbal assault” and “abuse.”
House Republican leadership has shown again and again that they don’t have a problem with Greene’s abuses. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy may not be all the way in MTG-land yet himself, but given how little spine he has, he’s being pulled in that direction. Greene is not alone in some of her most offensive votes. This is not just one deeply unpleasant person. It’s not even one deeply unpleasant person and the extremists who follow her. It’s about the institutional support she continues to get even as she willfully endangers her colleagues.