Thursday, July 30, 2020

Variation on a Theme

Last week Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL) approached Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on the Capitol steps and attacked her for some remarks she'd made about crime at a town hall earlier in the month.  "You are out of your freaking mind," he said, called her "disgusting," and according to a reporter who was present, turned away and muttered "Fucking bitch" as he moved along.

Ocasio-Cortez criticized him publicly for his obnoxiousness, and Yoho took to the House floor to make the standard fake apology for such occasions: he denied having used the obscenity, claimed he was just so upset he hardly knew what he was doing, and flaunted his wife and two daughters as proof that he'd never use such disrespectful language.  Ocasio-Cortez deftly raked Yoho over the coals some more.

Something odd, though.  Yoho said he was offended because of his own experience with poverty, and accused Ocasio-Cortez of equating poverty with crime.  Here's how The Hill reported what she'd said:
During the event, Ocasio-Cortez was asked about gun violence in New York, which has spiked this summer as the nation's largest city — which was clobbered by the coronavirus — slowly reopens from a months-long lockdown.

Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, has long advocated for policies that cut police budgets and shift that funding to education, mental health and other social services. In her response, she stuck to that theme, suggesting the surge in crime stems from the economic hardship facing New York's poorest communities — and a failure of policymakers to fund programs aimed at leveling economic disparities.

“Crime is a problem of a diseased society, which neglects its marginalized people," she said during the July 9 event. "Policing is not the solution to crime.”
Right-wing media attacked for, as they saw it, justifying violent crime as the result of poverty.

On Monday, Ocasio-Cortez defended her position, saying she made clear during the town hall that she was referring to "petty crime and crimes of poverty."
Conservative media, she said, has purposefully taken her comments out of context.

"I say, 'Listen, I'm not talking about violent crime, I'm not talking about shootings. But when it comes to petty theft, a lot of these are crimes of poverty, and people are desperate,'" she said. "So the right wing cuts up this clip, per usual, in a very misleading way. ... They basically [want] to make it seem as though I'm saying people are shooting each other because they're hungry."
Fair enough, I guess, but the question she answered was apparently about a spike in gun violence this summer in New York.  It seems, then, that she dodged the question before her as disingenuously as Yoho tried to justify his outburst: "I cannot apologize for my passion or for loving my God, my family and my country." 

Further, it appears that she didn't hear his parting epithet until it made the news.  A sitting politician should know better than to let off steam near a reporter, but I wonder if Ocasio-Cortez' vocabulary is squeaky clean when she's alone and thinking about her colleagues.  If Yoho had said it to her directly, it would be a different situation, but it seems that Ocasio-Cortez and sympathetic media framed the story to make it sound as if Yoho had cussed her to her face.  In any case, throwing a tantrum at a colleague on the Capitol steps was bad optics, though in the old days Congressmen were prone to strong insults and fisticuffs in the Congressional chambers.  Boys will be boys.

But the point I wanted to make here was, one more time, that a lot of the lefty-liberal-progressive types who jumped to Ocasio-Cortez' defense use misogynist language like Yoho's publicly, on Twitter, all the time.  (So do the right-wingers, but one expects that of passionately Christian patriots.)  They're in no position to cast the first stone at Yoho.  I've been tweaking some such by addressing them as Representative Yoho when I reply to their frothing.  It hasn't diminished in the regions I frequent since this story blew up.  Nor has homophobic abuse.  But of course, it's different when the good guys do it.