Racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, and anti-LGBTQ extremism remain endemic in the Republican conference.
The two top House Republicans made comments criticizing two members of their caucus on Monday for participating in a white nationalist event. But both Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise have opposed any previous efforts to punish Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA) and Paul Gosar (AZ) for their clear bigotry, and they have stood by as others in their caucus promote Islamophobia, antisemitism, racism, and anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
"There's no place in our party for any of this. ... The party should not be associated any time, any place with somebody who is antisemitic," McCarthy (CA) told reporters. "This is unacceptable."
"There's no place in America for antisemitism, for hate speech and thought that any race is purer than any other," agreed Scalise, the congressman from Louisiana.
These rare criticisms of their own GOP colleagues came after Greene and Gosar gave speeches to the America First Political Action Conference — a far-right conference organized by Southern Poverty Law Center-designated white nationalist Nick Fuentes — over the weekend.
Greene has since claimed she was unfamiliar with Fuentes and his views.
But both Gosar and Greene have prior records of hateful speech and deeds.
Prior to her election to Congress, Greene had a long history of antisemitic, racist, and Islamophobic comments.
Last summer, she compared COVID-19 safety requirements to "Nazi practices." She later apologized for her "offensive" and "hurtful" analogy — but then equated President Joe Biden's door-to-door campaign to offer vaccines to people who wanted them with Nazi "Brownshirts" three weeks later.
Gosar addressed the same America First Political Action Conference last year — while pretending to be working from home due to the pandemic.
Before that, he traveled to the United Kingdom for a 2018 rally for an anti-immigrant extremist, where he blamed sex trafficking and abuse on the "scourge" of Muslim people and said in 2020 that Americans should "take a chill pill" instead of using words like "racism" and "racist."
Last November, Gosar refused to apologize after his staffers posted a violent video depicting him murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and assaulting President Joe Biden.
McCarthy, Scalise, and the House Republican Conference refused to take any action to hold Greene or Gosar responsible for their actions. Instead, the Democratic majority — with almost no GOP support — censured Gosar and stripped both him and Greene of their committee assignments. Scalise and McCarthy opposed both moves.
Neither GOP leader has spoken out or taken action against other House Republicans who have also made offensive comments about Jews and the Holocaust.
Colorado's Lauren Boebert last summer called public health officials providing at-home COVID-19 vaccines as "Needle Nazis"; Ohio's Warren Davidson had to apologize for likening a Washington, D.C., vaccine requirement to a Nazi "Gesundheitspass (health pass)" used to enforce "racial hygiene"; Alabama's Mo Brooks read aloud sections of Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" on the House floor in 2019 as part of a speech attacking the media and Democrats over allegations Donald Trump's 2016 campaign colluded with Russians; and North Carolina's Madison Cawthorn complained in 2020 that it was really difficult to convince Jews to convert from Judaism.
Scalise himself infamously spoke to a white nationalist group connected to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in 2002 and reportedly once claimed to be "David Duke without the baggage."
Scalise's Eye of the Tiger leadership PAC has given at least $10,000 to Cawthorn.
McCarthy's Majority Committee has donated at least $17,500 to Gosar, $10,000 to Cawthorn, and $5,000 to Boebert.
Both have also embraced Trump, despite his frequent attacks on LGBTQ, Muslim, Jewish, Asian, and Black Americans.
And a significant portion of their caucus has voted against protections for those communities.
On Monday, McCarthy and Scalise were among 188 Republicans in the House who voted against the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, a bill to ban discrimination "based on a person's hair texture or hairstyle if that style or texture is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin."
Both were among 206 House Republicans who opposed the Equality Act — which would explicitly add LGBTQ Americans to existing federal nondiscrimination laws — in February 2021.
And many members of their caucus have been even worse. Last May 62 House Republicans voted against a bipartisan bill to protect Asian Americans from coronavirus-related hate crimes. On Monday, three even voted against a bill to make lynching a federal hate crime.
Ocasio-Cortez called out McCarthy's hypocrisy on Monday evening.
"McCarthy has been protecting his little KKK Caucus for years with these toothless statements and meetings," she tweeted. "It's how he covers for them. He's now helped them for so long they've escalated their open antisemitism & collaboration w/ white nationalist groups. He's just as culpable."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.