Republicans' embrace of Marjorie Taylor Greene sent shockwaves across the political establishment, but it also told everyday Americans a lot about the GOP.
Historian Deborah Lipstadt, expert in modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University, explained in a column for The Guardian that the Republican support for Greene sent a message to Jews worldwide about where the GOP stands on basic issues like believing the Holocaust happened and Jewish space lasers aren't real.
While many mocked the "space laser" and cracked jokes about the possible uses, the underlying reality was that a national political party supports a woman who spreads anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Lipstadt explained that it isn't a laughing matter.
"The doubters were quickly reminded that Jews have developed a fine art of laughing at their sorrows, even while trembling with fear," she wrote. "Surprising though it may be, in Nazi Germany Jews crafted jokes about the horrendous circumstances in which they lived."
But after a few days, the humor over the so-called "Jewish space laser" ceased and what was left were the conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism. The situation became even worse when Republicans endorsed Greene.
"The abrupt halt to some very clever exchanges came when the Republican caucus refused to punish, criticize or condemn Greene in any fashion," wrote Lipstadt. "Instead, they gave her a standing ovation. They did so after she told them that she had only been 'curious' about some of the ideas she had posted and didn't really know what space lasers were. Though her explanations beggared the imagination – her space laser post was long and detailed – it was enough for her colleagues."
She explained that acts of antisemitism extend from the Holocaust, to shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue or even just shoving a practicing Orthodox worshiper wearing traditional clothing. All of the conspiracy theories have their roots in fear of Jewish power.
"I don't believe Greene is advocating physical violence against Jews," she said. "It was hard, however, not to be struck by her choice of words when she spoke on the House floor to argue that these were no longer her views. Rather than apologize, she condemned the attacks on her as an attempt to 'crucify' her. Crucify? Irrespective of her personal views about Jews, there is no doubt, however, that she is reinforcing and spreading a dangerous notion. She may not pick up the rock or gun to harm a Jew, but she is giving ammunition to those who will. And this kind of hatred and violence may start with Jews, but it never ends with them. And if it begins with others, it will eventually lead to Jews. History makes that clear."
She closed by reminding leaders that every war, every act of violence, terrorist attack, or even racist graffiti all starts with words like Greene's. And "In the fight against hatred and evil, neutrality is not an option. There are no bystanders."