Marjorie Taylor Greene Addresses Controversy
ORLANDO, Florida — The power Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wields in the Republican Party was unmistakable after prominent conservative figures declined to criticize her appearance at a political conference organized by antisemitic white nationalists.
Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, offered only a general statement, declaring Saturday that “white supremacy, neo-Nazism, hate speech and bigotry are disgusting and do not have a home in the Republican Party.” But McDaniel did not mention Greene by name or make any specific reference to the America First Political Action Conference, the gathering in Orlando the congresswoman attended that fomented the latest controversy to surround the Georgia Republican.
The alternative conference, scheduled to dovetail with the annual Conservative Political Action Conference also being held in Orlando, featured speakers who cheered Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and made racist and antisemitic remarks. On Saturday, the morning after, Greene was welcomed at a CPAC main stage panel on being “canceled” titled “They Can’t Shut Us Up!”
Republicans were slow, or outright declined, to criticize Greene for associating with the America First Political Action Conference.
Anthony Sabatini, a Republican state representative in Florida running for the state’s 7th Congressional District and who was endorsed by Greene, said he had no qualms about her decision to speak at the America First Political Action Conference. Nor, Sabatini added, did it give him second thoughts about accepting the congresswoman’s endorsement.
“Anybody should be able to speak at any conference at any time on any subject. The person should be judged on what they say. I know Marjorie, and she has not said and will not say anything I find to be controversial. I think 99% of the Republican base agrees and finds her to be the best voice of our issues,” Sabatini told the Washington Examiner.
“This is another example of cancel culture, where it’s not about what you say, but guilt by association,” Sabatini continued. “If you’re nearby someone who is considered bad, then you’re bad for being nearby them or being in proximity to them, and that’s wrong. This is cancel culture run amok. And thankfully, Republican so-called leadership has not engaged, really, in canceling fellow elected Republicans. It’s been the Democrats.”
However, there were a few Republicans and affiliated groups that did rebuke Greene, including the Republican Jewish Coalition. “The Republican Jewish Coalition condemns in the strongest possible terms Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s appearance at the white nationalist America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) with Nazi-sympathizer Nick Fuentes.”
The America First Political Action Conference is run by Nick Fuentes, whom the Anti-Defamation League says “seeks to forge a white nationalist alternative to the mainstream GOP.” Fuentes has a long history of uttering racist and antisemitic statements. Confronted by reporters Saturday and asked to explain why she appeared with Fuentes and spoke at his conference, Greene said she did not know Fuentes.
“I have never heard him speak. I have never seen a video. I don’t know what his views are, so I’m not aligned with anything that may be controversial,” she said. After being told he was a white nationalist, she said, “I do not endorse those views.”
Greene also issued a defensive, prepared statement that appeared to contradict her earlier remarks.
“I am not going to play the guilt by association game in which you demand every conservative should justify anything ever said by anyone they’ve ever shared a room with,” Greene said. “I’m also not going to turn down the opportunity to speak to 1,200 young America First patriots because of a few off-color remarks by another speaker, even if I find those remarks unsavory. I want to embrace the young, boisterous, and energetic conservatives in our movement — not cancel them like the establishment does.”
Meanwhile, CPAC organizers also declined to criticize Greene.
Matt Schlapp, who is the chairman of the American Conservative Union and runs CPAC, told the Washington Examiner he believes it’s counterproductive to censor voices he disagrees with, although he made clear he has no tolerance for racism or antisemitism.
Asked if it bothers him that the America First Political Action Conference shadows CPAC as a means to attract Republican lawmakers who traveled to Orlando for his larger gathering, Schlapp declined to address that question directly.
“I’m proud of the conference we put on,” Schlapp said.
“I don’t want to be the world’s censor,” he added. “I think they should come here, and they should talk. We’ve invited people I’m sure that, looking back, we’d say probably shouldn’t have done that. And I don’t want anyone else’s conference. They should run their conference. And they have the right to run their conference as they wish.”