TUESDAY, MARCH 7, 2023
No Crazy Belief Left Behind: Especially if we're viewing the world from the liberal / progressive / Democratic perspective, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is a real piece of work.
Especially if we're viewing the world from the liberal / progressive / Democratic perspective, there are very few crazy beliefs which Rep. Greene hasn't endorsed at some point.
Also though, and in full fairness, she seems to come by it naturally.
Long ago and far away, The Atlantic published an extensive biographical profile of Rep. Greene.
The profile was written by Elaina Plott Calabro. Now that we doublecheck, the profile appeared in early December, beneath this pair of headlines:
WHY IS MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE LIKE THIS?
On the ground in the Georgia congresswoman’s alternate universe
Why is Rep. Greene like this? Especially at this point in time, we'd call that an excellent question.
We can't vouch for the perfect accuracy of every word in The Atlantic's lengthy profile. But as to why Rep. Greene has endorsed so many apparently crazy beliefs, it seems that the tendency may possibly run in the family.
At one point in the profile, Calabro offered a biographical profile of Bob Taylor, Rep. Greene's father. According to Calabro, he was also in possession of at least one strange belief:
CALABRO (12/5/22): Greene’s political origin story was not unlike that of millions of other Trump supporters. Despite having never hinted at an interest in politics, she found herself suddenly beguiled by a feeling, a conviction that despite the distance between Trump’s gold-plated world and her own, she knew exactly who he was. “He reminded me of most men I know,” she has said. “Men like my dad.”
In some ways, [Trump] was like her dad. Bob Taylor may not have been overtly partisan, but he rivaled Trump in his tendency to self-mythologize. In 2006, Greene’s father had published a novel with the small publisher Savas Beatie called Paradigm. As best I can tell, this is Taylor’s effort to demonstrate the value of a system he invented called the “Taylor Effect”—which purports to predict the stock market based on the gravitational fluctuations of Earth—in the form of a high-stakes international caper. The story follows twin scientists who discover an ancient Egyptian box in the bowels of the Biltmore estate, the contents of which, they soon realize, could “destroy many of the world’s most powerful families” if ever made public.
He considered his stock-market theory to be “the Genuine Article”; in the afterword, he likened himself to da Vinci, Galileo, Edison, Marconi, and the Wright brothers. “History,” he wrote, “is filled with characters who endured ridicule, imprisonment, and even death because they discovered things we know today with absolute certainty to be true.” Suzanne Thompson, a North Carolina author hired to help Taylor write Paradigm, recalls that Taylor had “a bit of an exalted sense of himself.” She was unaware that he was Marjorie Taylor Greene’s father, and gasped with dismay when I told her. “Oh my gosh, I had no idea. Oh my God.”
In many ways, Bob Taylor seems to have been an admirable high achiever. He had established a highly successful business despite humble family origins.
In other ways, it seems that he may have been out of his mind.
Let us guess that Taylor didn't really invent a system which could "predict the stock market based on the gravitational fluctuations of Earth." That said, it seems that he believed that he had, and that he may have thought of himself as one of history's great inventors.
(In full fairness, let it be said that Newton believed in witches and witchcraft, and also spent a lot of his time trying to find a way to make gold out of lead. Presumably, no one ever gets everything right, but we'll guess that Rep. Greene's father may have been wrong about revolutionary system now known as the "Taylor Effect.")
At any rate, Suzanne Thompson had helped Taylor write the adventure novel in which he's said to have displayed his "exalted view of himself." According to Calabro, Suzanne Thompson gasped with dismay when she learned that Rep. Greene was Bob Taylor's daughter.
Calabro doesn't attempt to explain that reaction. We'll only say that the capacity to form absurd beliefs may have been, to some extent, a bit of a family tradition.
At any rate, whatever! Elsewhere in her profile, Calabro describes the process through which Greene emerged as a person who seems to be able to believe almost any claim, no matter how absurd, bizarre or implausible.
"Despite having never hinted at an interest in politics," she found herself, as she reached 43 years of age, caught up in the emerging politics, journalism and social media of the ongoing Trump era.
We won't try to retrace it all. But as Calabro laid out "the narrative of Greene’s descent into QAnon," she offered a passage showing how far it quickly went:
CALABRO: To an extent, Greene had already signaled her attraction to conspiracy theories, questioning on American Truth Seekers whether the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas was a false-flag operation to eliminate gun rights. But with Q, Greene was all in. She has gone so far as to endorse an unhinged QAnon theory called “frazzledrip,” which claims that Hillary Clinton murdered a child as part of a satanic blood ritual.
Way back in the 1990s, the Reverend Falwell had toured the countryside, attempting to convince supporters of the reality of the Clintons' many murders.
By and large, the mainstream press corps had treated Falwell's behavior with a dose of benign neglect. Now, if Calabro's profile can be believed, the "frazzledrip" theory had taken things one step further, and Greene has endorsed the claim.
According to frazzledrip, it wasn't just that Hillary Clinton had been involved in a bunch of political murders. She had also murdered a child as part of a blood ritual—a satanic blood ritual at that!
The father believed that he had invented a world-changing economic / gravitational theory. According to Calabro, the daughter believed in frazzledrip, then continued along from there.
By now, she has become a major political player on our devolving American stage. Especially when she is viewed from the liberal / progressive / Democratic Party perspective, there are very few crazy, dumb or stupid ideas to which she hasn't given voice.
That said, consider this:
At present, we're living in a world in which tens of millions of American voters seem to believe various things which don't quite seem to make sense. In his new column for the New York Times, Paul Krugman offers this absolute keeper of an overview statement:
"But of course none of this is about rational argument."
We'll offer more on Krugman's statement this afternoon. But we've all been living through a highly instructive anthropological moment—a moment in which we're learning about the surprising human capacity for apparently crazy belief.
As it turns out, many people—not just Greene—are apparently able to believe in theories like frazzledrip. Until the "democratization of media"—until the rise of such communication technologies as talk radio, cable news, the Internet and social media—this basic fact about the human condition might have been hard to discern.
Today, it's clear that people can believe all sorts of things, if they're only given the chance. The liberal / progressive / Democratic world is struggling to deal with the armies of strange belief advanced by generals like Rep. Greene, but is it possible that we ourselves, within our blue tribe, contribute to this ongoing disaster?
As we admitted yesterday, we're going to be looking at things From Their Side Now this week—and yes, we're going to start with one of the most disordered of all major red tribe players this side of Donald J. Trump.
There seem to be very few things that Rep. Greene can't come to believe. That said, our own blue tribe has been an ongoing part of this very dangerous mess—or at least, so it says here.
In the past few weeks, Rep. Greene gave voice to her latest dumb idea. On its face, the idea was rather dumb—but then, the blue world struck back.
According to major anthropologists, members of all human tribes are strongly inclined to believe that the fault at times like this always lies with the Others, full and complete total stop.
In the case of Rep. Greene, few crazy, dumb or unhelpful ideas seem to get left behind. Then again, and acknowledging that, how well are things going with Us?
How may this latest foofaw involving Greene have appeared to the Others? Tomorrow, we'll start to ponder that question.
Incomparably, we'll be trying to do something unusual. We'll be trying to look at things From The Others' Side Now.
Tomorrow: The latest dumb idea