For decades now, employees across America—white collar and blue collar, fast food workers and advertising flunkies, private-sector paper pushers and federal bureaucrats—are required to participate in anti-harassment training as part of company on-boarding. It doesn’t always curb harassment, of course, and has even been known to increase harassment in some instances. Still, the threat looms: Do something that could be misconstrued as discriminatory or harassing, and you could get a call from Human Resources.
But that this threat doesn’t seem to phase some lawmakers, mandatory anti-harassment training be damned. It especially does not phase Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the freshman congresswoman and conspiracy theorist who has a penchant for harassing anyone who diverges from her right-wing agenda. Greene doesn’t just play keyboard warrior, intimidating through a computer screen. She does it up close and personal, whether it was jeering at the young survivors of the Parkland school shooting for promoting gun control legislation or her Democratic colleagues. And now that Greene is in Congress and has easy access to her targets, her behavior has ratcheted up.
On Wednesday, Greene ran after Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, shouting at her in the halls of Congress, screaming about Black Lives Matter and Antifa, both of which she referred to as terrorists. She accused Ocasio-Cortez of failing to stand up for her “radical socialist” beliefs because she won’t debate her. But Greene’s obsession with Ocasio-Cortez isn’t new. On Friday, CNN’s Andrew Kacynski unearthed a 2019 video—filmed before Greene became a member of Congress—in which Greene taunts Ocasio-Cortez through the mailbox slot of her D.C. office. In it, Greene calls Ocasio-Cortez “crazy eyes” and a “baby.”
From CNN (emphasis ours):
In the video, from a since-deleted Facebook Live of Greene’s that was saved by CNN’s KFile, Greene tells Ocasio-Cortez to “get rid of your diaper,” referring to the congresswoman’s office as a “day care.” Greene repeatedly indicates throughout her stream that security has been called on them.
“We’re going to go see, we’re going to visit, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Crazy eyes. Crazy eyes. Nutty. Cortez,” Greene says to the camera on the way to the congresswoman’s office, mispronouncing “Ocasio.”
“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I’m an American citizen. I pay your salary through the taxes that you collect for me through the IRS because I’m a taxpaying citizen of the United States,” Greene says, noting elsewhere in the video that members of Congress are “employees” who “work for us.”
“So you need to stop being a baby and stop locking your door and come out and face the American citizens that you serve,” she says. “If you want to be a big girl, you need to get rid of your diaper and come out and be able to talk to the American citizens. Instead of having to use a flap, a little flap. Sad.”
In the video, Greene is flanked by a small team of allies. One is heard saying, “You can’t stay in there forever. Come out and play.” Another, Anthony Aguero, attended the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
Ocasio-Cortez responded to the report, tweeting about the irony of the house GOP protecting Greene while stripping Justin Amash for criticizing Trump. In a statement to the Washington Post, Ocasio-Cortz said that Green is “a woman that’s deeply unwell and clearly needs some help” and that she is “concerned about her perceptions of reality.” When asked whether an ethics complaint is in order, Ocasio-Cortez said that that’s an assessment for the ethics committee to make.
Women of color are more likely to experience workplace harassment than their white colleagues and are less likely to receive support from management. Knowing this, it’s easy to read Ocasio-Cortez’s response about an ethics complaint as defeatist, and maybe it is, somewhat. But this also puts the ball in the House Ethics Committee’s court: Will they regard Greene’s behavior as harassment, giving AOC the protection that should be required of American workplaces, or is Greene, because of her stature and prominence, an exception?
In many ways, Congress operates as an exception to much of the workplace decorum that’s become standard in recent decades; that alone puts women of color like Ocasio-Cortez at an even higher risk of facing abuse, forced to tolerate the intolerable just to do their job.
For her part, Greene appears to navigate the world very comfortably as a walking exception: She doesn’t worry about appearing unprofessional, brash, uncouth, or unqualified as she shouts at her colleagues and perpetuates easily debunked conspiracy theories. Even after being stripped of her committee assignments, Greene acts untouchable in the way only the most entitled white women could.
The only thing that could potentially muzzle Greene, even slightly, is an Ethics Committee investigation. But until then, she’s more than happy to let her harassment campaign run wild. In response to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, Greene wrote, “The fact that you are openly supporting terrorists Hamas firing rockets into our ally Israel and supporting Antifa/BLM Violent riots against Americans should disqualify you from being a member of Congress. You keeping lists of Trump admin and supporters is terrifying. #JihadSquad.”