I was going to write today about the spread of the potentially deadly Omicron variant of COVID-19, but I’m afraid another dangerous virus will take its turn – threatening Colorado, threatening America, threatening to normalize bigotry, threatening democracy itself – same – which also needs to be addressed.
This virus, unfortunately, does not have a vaccine. No cure. I’m pretty sure even a triple dose of ivermectin wouldn’t help, although maybe in that case it wouldn’t hurt to try Donald Trump’s household disinfectant treatment.
I’m talking, of course, of Rep. Lauren Boebert, the right-wing fanatic and performance artist who uses her, uh, work, representing Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District as a way to raise funds, raise awareness and, certainly. , to raise hell. .
As you can guess, I have nothing against incitement to hell in principle, except the times it turns into anti-Muslim, homophobic, xenophobic and racist trolling, as it has in the past. Boebert’s recent stand-up routine slamming Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, the only Muslim in Congress to wear a hijab.
You’ve no doubt heard of Boebert’s Elevator Story, in which she tells a Colorado crowd about her impromptu – and possibly apocryphal – encounter with Ilhan Omar.
“I was going up in an elevator with one of my employees, and he and I were leaving the Capitol, we went back to my office and we got in the elevator and I saw a Capitol police officer rushing towards the elevator. I see worry all over his face. And he reached. The door closes. I can not open it.
âWhat’s going on? I look to my left and here she is, Ilhan Omar, and I said, ‘Well she doesn’t have a backpack, that should be fine,’ Boebert said.
I continued to wait for the rim shot, but the Boebert crowd didn’t need any help. His supporters burst out laughing and cheering when Boebert called his colleague – or any Muslim with a backpack, for that matter – a likely suicide bomber. Boebert was not finished, of course. She claimed that she then called Omar, opposite, a member of the “jihad squad”.
I assumed it was all shtick, racist shtick, the kind of shtick you’d expect at a Proud Boys open mic party. And then, as you might expect, CNN found another video, the one from September, in which Boebert was telling a, uh, similar story except without a cop. And Omar entering the elevator after Boebert. And a “lookey over there” tossed into the mix.
Take a look there: âOne of my employees, on his first day with me, got into an elevator on the Capitol. And in that elevator, we were joined by Ilhan Omar, âBoebert told a New York crowd in September. âIt was just the three of us in there and I looked and I said, ‘Well look, this is the jihad squad.’
âShe doesn’t have a backpack, she didn’t drop it and run, so we’re fine,â Boebert adds, before calling Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., âEvil Women with a black heart “. It’s probably just a coincidence that both Omar and Tlaib are Muslims.
Now you know why the November 29 phone call between Boebert and Omar – in which Boebert was likely to apologize – didn’t go so well. Omar demanded a public apology. Boebert refused and instead insisted that Omar publicly apologize for what she called Omar’s âanti-American, anti-Semitic and anti-police rhetoricâ.
Then they released dueling statements, in which Boebert suggests, once again, that Omar is a terrorist sympathizer and Omar says, “I believe in engaging with those we don’t agree with. respect, but not when that disagreement is rooted in bigotry and hatred. ” The only thing they agreed on was that Omar hung up on Boebert, whom Boebert called âcancel culture 101â.
And There you go.
I don’t know which speaks louder – the condemnation of Boebert by the House Democrats or the deep silence of the House Republican leadership. As you may have noticed, we also haven’t heard much from the state’s top Republicans, some of whom have privately told me of their disdain for Boebert. I can see being afraid to criticize Trump, but Boebert? Are they worried that she’s packing her bags? I mean, is this a case of glockophobia or just a spine-less fear of a part of the grassroots that Trump and Boebert share?
In the end, maybe those cowardly Republicans were right because it wouldn’t be long before Trump actually spoke out and, of course, on Boebert’s side. Trump accused Omar, among other lies, of “abandoning his old country.” Omar left Somalia as a refugee. When she was 12. And became a US citizen five years later. This is not the Big Lie. It’s just another lie. He has told more lies, but some are too ugly to repeat.
And if you think things can’t get worse, you just haven’t been paying attention.
Yes, Boebert is a tyrant and a demagogue, a troll and a provocateur, a supporter of the Big Lie, but that’s not even half.
While the Republican leadership remained silent, all hell broke loose in a loaded Boebert battle between the Boebert House Junk Team and what remains of House GOP moderates.
Rep. Nancy Mace from South Carolina started it all off by slamming Boebert’s remarks into a TV interview. In response, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who had said Boebert should never apologize, called Mace “trash”. And Mace hit back, according to The New York Times account, with a string of rapid-fire emojis – including a bunch of, uh, droppings – before calling him, among other niceties, a con artist and a nut.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who is so moderate that he voted to impeach Trump and is now retiring, rushed to defend Mace, calling Greene an “insecure McSpacelaser circus barker.”
There is more back and forth, but the question is, what to do about it? Should Boebert be censored by the House like Gosar for his snuff animation video? Should she be stripped of her commission assignments for crimes against rhetoric like Greene? Sure, probably, but up to what point?
Democrats have had to hand down those sanctions, essentially without the backing of Republicans, and in each case it has simply turned into partisan bickering rather than an agreement on what kind of behavior is unacceptable. But after two videos, Nancy Pelosi may have no choice but to do something.
And in the end, it doesn’t matter what House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says or does in Boebert’s case. The way to bet is that it doesn’t do anything. In fact, McCarthy has already promised to grant Gosar and Greene full pardons if Republicans regain control of the House midway through next year, even though Greene says she would not vote for McCarthy as as a speaker.
What matters is what voters do in the 3rd Congressional District, which in its newly redesigned form has changed very little and still has a 9 point Republican bent. You would expect a Republican to win there. But we’re obviously not talking about just any Republican.
Last year, Boebert beat Scott Tipton in a primary en route to Congress. I guess people were looking, though apparently not close enough, for new blood. Because when I hear Boebert speak all I see is someone spreading more and more outrage as she recovers from the same old hateful wounds.
Mike Littwin’s column was produced for Colorado sun, a reader-backed news organization committed to covering the people, places and politics of Colorado. Learn more at coloradosun.com.