Marjorie Taylor Greene’s conspiracy theories threaten higher education

Lasers from space prompted the widespread California wildfires. “Zionist supremacists” caused Muslim immigration into Europe. The shootings at Parkland, Sandy Hook and Las Vegas were “false flag” events. Muslims don’t belong in office because they practice “sharia law.” And there is an international child sex trafficking ring being run by celebrities and politicians. 

While these all seem like the Facebook ramblings you can expect from that crazy aunt, a U.S. government official has said and believes every bit. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene for Georgia’s 14th congressional district has suggested all of these things and much more.

Hannah Thacker | Opinions Editor

Last week, Greene was appointed to the education committee shortly after a video of her berating Parkland High School shooting survivor David Hogg went viral. Because of her actions, lies and falsehoods, U.S. House Democrats voted Thursday night to remove Greene from her positions on the House education and labor committee and House budget committee. While it is certainly a relief that Greene is no longer on committees, her power and extremist views endanger the United States. Knowing she could have had a say in issues like handling the COVID-19 pandemic in schools and addressing school shootings is unnerving, and as students, we must pay attention to that.

Greene has shown support for executing prominent Democrats, helped perpetuate the lie that the 2020 election was stolen, repeatedly denied the science around COVID-19 and climate change and has said truly grotesque remarks about Jews, Muslims and other groups. The list of derogatory comments quite literally goes on and on. These claims strike most people as utterly outlandish but not everybody. Greene stands for a portion of America that has been brainwashed by their information ecosystems – silos that leave people trapped in a never-ending cycle of false information, conspiracy theories and conservative talking points. Even though she is no longer on committees, Greene remaining a member of Congress affords her a position of power to keep stoking these conspiratorial beliefs.

In turn, this can have a real impact on policy that comes out of the House. Any member of Congress can introduce, cosponsor or vote on legislation – that includes members like Greene who has become persona non grata on committees. Legislatively, she threatens schools safety, bringing the pandemic to heel, combating climate change, dismantling systemic racism and countless other issues that affect not just students but people across the country. Paying attention to people like Greene is important for students because she, and the group she stands for, is a real danger to our democratic processes. 

Students have witnessed things that she believes to be false. Most students have experienced active shooter training, know of someone who has experienced a school shooting or experienced one themselves. If Greene’s far right beliefs seem out of right field, it makes it more likely that conservative beliefs like arming teachers to combat school shootings will seem more moderate than they really are. 

But even beyond policy, Greene and what she represents constitute a broader threat. Greene and those like her are engaged in a war on truth and fact that endangers every single living person. The more people subscribe to her COVID-19 denial, the longer the pandemic will persist – and people will die. The more people identify with her posts calling for the execution of political opponents, the more likely it is that another U.S. Capitol riot will happen with deadlier results. And the less pushback her brand of politics faces, the more it will be normalized. Students and people across D.C. saw this in action as the U.S. Capitol riot threatened our republic. 

The longer people like Greene wield power and influence, the more people will be trapped in a cul-de-sac of conspiracy theorems that inhibits democracy. We should all be alarmed by that. Had Greene remained on the education committee, universities and schools all across the country would have to put their guard up and be prepared for anything to happen. While she is not on the committee now, the fact that schools and colleges would have had to protect themselves so fervently from an elected official is indicative of serious failure in our democratic processes.

The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Hannah Thacker and contributing opinions editor Andrew Sugrue, based on discussions with managing director Kiran Hoeffner-Shah, managing editor Parth Kotak, sports editor Emily Maise, culture editor Anna Boone and design editor Olivia Columbus.

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