Marjorie Taylor Greene is dangerous. She should be removed
One of the most important tasks is fighting Islamophobia, and that begins with educating Americans about Islam. Speaking virtually before the Million Muslim Votes Summit, President Biden advocated doing just that. If he and his Democratic partners plan to keep that promise, they must push for Marjorie Taylor Greene to be removed from her position on the House Education Committee.
Ever since GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy seated Greene on the House Education Committee, calls for her resignation or removal flooded the media. The list of reasons why Taylor has no place on the committee is endless. The video of her abusing a teenager who just survived a school shooting, her calls for the execution of Nancy Pelosi, and her gross anti-Semitic conspiracy that Jewish lasers caused the California wildfires are a few things that come to mind.
But for me, this quote screams the loudest: "If you want Islam and Sharia law you stay over there in the Middle East. You stay there and go to Mecca… you can have a bunch of wives or goats or sheep or whatever you want. You stay over there. But in America, you see, we made it this great, great country and we don't want it messed up."
While Greene's Islamophobic remarks have been mentioned in passing as examples of her racism and xenophobia, I have been been (not)surprised that they caused less of an uproar than the Q-anon conspiracies she peddles.
|There has long been a tacit approval in the GOP for these comments and this brand of ignorant Islamophobia|
In a letter to McCarthy and other GOP leaders, Representative Jahana Hayes writes a powerful rebuke to Greene's remarks on school shootings and her relationship to white supremacists, but leaves out Greene's Islamophobia. CNN's Don Lemon was one of few television anchors to dedicate a segment to Greene's anti-Muslim remarks, with the majority of other airtime going to her conspiracy theories.
That her conspiracies garner so much attention is no surprise - they are so outside the realm of reality it is difficult to reconcile them with her title of "Congresswoman". However, Greene's Islamophobia merits greater attention because, unlike so many of her wild conspiracies, its presence in the GOP preceded her and paved the way for her position on the Education Committee.
Marjorie Taylor Greene has a long history of Islamophobic comments. She accused Barack Obama of being a Muslim (which, as a Muslim, I think Obama should take as a compliment). After Muslims Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were elected to Congress in 2018, she said there was an "Islamic invasion" into US government offices and that "anyone that is a Muslim and believes in Sharia law does not belong in our government."
She would eventually follow up those video-taped remarks with physical actions when she went to the Capitol to demand that Tlaib and Omar swear on the Bible instead of the Quran. Greene's Islamophobia, like that of so many, stems from not only racism, but her ignorance about sharia law. She claims that sharia law in Muslim nations allows men to have sex with little boys, little girls, their sisters, and their cousins. As Greene marched through the Capitol to find Tlaib and Omar, she agreed with a friend's "bottom line" that "sharia law is not compatible with America."
This ignorance of Islam and sharia is not unique to Greene, but has ingrained itself within conservative American politics. There is a long history of conservative parents and curriculums either challenging teachers who attempt to educate their pupils about Islam and the Middle East, or incorrectly teaching students about Islam on the basis of sharia.
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The argument that sharia is "not compatible with America" has been echoed by Fox News anchors and politicians alike. That McCarthy felt it was appropriate to seat a woman who so unapologetically espouses such wild beliefs about Islam and Muslims on a Committee responsible for educating American children is likely because there has long been a tacit approval in the GOP for these comments and this brand of ignorant Islamophobia.
In fact, Republicans have previously allowed individuals with Islamophobic views to speak about education in America. Most recently, President Trump's 1776 Commission, formed in response to The New York Times 1619 Project, released a report in January 2021 espousing the importance of a "patriotic education" for American children.
Ironically, this commission tasked with teaching children "American values" was co-chaired by an unapologetic Islamophobe, former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain, who wrote in a 2015 op-ed: "More and more members of the PC crowd now acknowledge that Islam has absolutely nothing in common with Christianity, nor is it a worthy part of the brotherhood of man I long felt was characteristic of the Abrahamic religions."
Swain claimed that "Islam is not like other religions in the United States, that it poses an absolute danger to us and our children." After she visited an Islamic Centre in 2017 and had the opportunity to retract her remarks, she said, though she regretted her language, her views had not changed.
That the GOP put not just one, but two openly Islamophobic women in charge of speaking about American curriculums speaks to the GOP's dangerous disregard for Islamophic rhetoric among its leaders, if not their outright approval of it.
|If she remains on the House Education Committee she poses an immediate threat to America's already tenuous history of educating its people about Islam|
We may dismiss Greene for her absurd theories about 9/11, Jewish space lasers, and child-eating cabals; however, if she remains on the House Education Committee she poses an immediate threat to America's already tenuous history of educating its people about Islam. Democrats who want to support the American Muslim community must take the danger Greene poses to teaching Islam in America seriously and continue to push for her removal.
As for Republicans, the choice is simple. In 2019, McCarthy removed Steve King from a Committee assignment for his comments supporting white supremacy. "That language has no place in America," McCarthy said then. "I will not stand back as a leader of this party, believing in this nation that all are created equal."
Failure to remove Greene demonstrates that the GOP thinks Greene's Islamophic language has not only a place in America, but in the leadership of their party. In the words of Kevin McCarthy himself - "that is not the America I know, and it is most definitely not the party of Lincoln."
Zaina Ujayli is an MA student at The University of Virginia focusing on nineteenth and twentieth century Arab and Arab American writers.
Follow her on Twitter: @zainaujayli
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Opinions expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer, or of The New Arab and its editorial board or staff.