The Slatest

How Many House Republicans Believe the Jews Attacked California With a Space Laser?

We asked party leaders about Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s theory.

Greene, standing in front of a metal detector, gestures with her hands and wears a mask that says "Molon Labe," which means "come and take them" in Greek.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene shouts at journalists as she goes through security outside the House chamber at the Capitol on Jan. 12. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images

On Thursday, it was reported that freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene had endorsed a theory that wealthy Jewish bankers had started California’s 2018 Camp Fire by firing a laser from space in order to benefit themselves financially.

You can read her Facebook post, uncovered by Media Matters reporter Eric Hananoki, here. In it, Greene postulates that the “Vice Chairman of Rothschild Inc, international investment banking firm” may have used “space solar generators … beaming the sun[’]s energy back to Earth” to fire a “laser beam or light beam coming down to Earth” to “cause” the 2018 Camp Fire in California in order to manipulate the stock market and line the pockets of “Rothschild Inc,” “Solaren,” and Sen. Dianne “Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum.”

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Feinstein and her husband are Jewish, and conspiracy theories involving the Rothschilds are a long-standing anti-Semitic trope. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean and director of global social action of the Wiesenthal Center, told me “anyone who used the term ‘Rothschild banker,’ that’s shorthand for Jews.” Cooper called on Greene to apologize and said she should not be on the House Committee on Education and Labor.

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When told of a video Greene once posted on social media in which a narrator says “an unholy alliance of leftists, capitalists, and Zionist supremacists has schemed to promote immigration and miscegenation, with the deliberate aim of breeding us out of existence in our own homelands,” Cooper said: “This is clearly a person that has an anti-Semitism problem.”

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Democrats have been calling for weeks to expel Greene from the House of Representatives, based on her anti-Semitism, conspiracy-mongering, and insurrection-backing. Given her popularity with former President Donald Trump and with the QAnon movement, and its overall interest in owning the libs, the institutional Republican Party has been much more reluctant to respond. But after the latest revelations, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called the comments “disgusting” and said there is “no place for anti-Semitism in our party” and that the comments “should be looked into.” And a spokesperson for California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, told Slate, “These comments are deeply disturbing and Leader McCarthy plans to have a conversation with the Congresswoman about them.”

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Before that conversation could occur, Greene put out a statement denouncing “the radical, left-wing Democrat mob and the Fake News media trying to take me out” and saying “I will never back down.”

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“I will lead the charge to be a voice for the Silent Majority,” she wrote.

Speaking of silent majorities: I asked every member of House Republican leadership whether or not they believe, as Greene has speculated, that the 2018 Camp Fire might have been caused by powerful Jewish interests shooting an energy beam from space, or if such comments were appropriate.

Here is a list of their responses or nonresponses, which will be updated if and when these Republican House leaders get back to Slate.

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A spokesperson for Rep. Steve Scalise, the House minority whip, said, “No, of course he does not believe that.”

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Rep. Tom Emmer, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee: “We don’t support any hate-driven conspiracy theories.”

A spokesman for Rep. Liz Cheney, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, replied in response to both questions, “no.”

Rep. Mike Johnson, the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, responded “of course not” and “of course not.”

Rep. Jason Smith, the secretary of the House Republican Conference, did not respond when his office was asked if he believed that “Rothschild Inc” had fired space lasers to start the 2018 Camp Fire, or if such comments were appropriate.

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Rep. Gary Palmer, the chair of the House Republican Policy Committee, did not respond when his office was asked if he believed that “Rothschild Inc” had fired space lasers to start the 2018 Camp Fire, or if such comments were appropriate.

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This lack of widespread condemnation is a marked departure from how the House reacted to Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar over 2019 statements that congressional support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leadership described the remarks as “anti-Semitic tropes” and asked Omar to apologize, which she “unequivocally” did.

This didn’t stop House Republicans from sponsoring a resolution to condemn Omar. Of the three Republican sponsors of that failed resolution who remain in the House—Rep. Greg Steube, Rep. Jeff Duncan, and Rep. Louie Gohmert—none responded when asked whether or not they shared Greene’s belief that “Rothschild Inc” may have fired space lasers to start the 2018 Camp Fire.

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