Columnist John Sheirer: A shouted lie is still a lie

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks during a news conference, in May. AP

Published: 10/10/2021 1:00:11 PM

Last month, a group of Democratic representatives held a press conference on the Capitol steps to highlight the House passing a measure to protect women’s reproductive rights. Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene heckled the press conference: “This is not women’s rights. Killing a baby up until birth is not a right. That’s not health care. It’s evil.”

After Democratic representative Debbie Dingell called out Greene’s rude behavior, Greene shouted, “Killing a baby up until birth is a lack of civility. It’s called murder!”

Here’s a news flash for Greene: That’s a lie. It’s not just a harmless, “white lie” that we casually ascribe to all politicians, not a stretch of the truth to call attention to an issue, not a difference of opinion on an abstract concept.

No Democrat holds a position remotely close to Greene’s dishonest rant. No Democrat in this country has ever said anything remotely like, “I want people to kill a baby just before it’s born.” No Democrat has ever written a position paper with a statement resembling, “Murdering a child just before birth is good public policy.” No Democrat’s campaign speech ever included the line similar to, “A vote for me is a vote for snatching a baby from a mother’s womb just before birth.”

What’s more, every nonpartisan fact-checker who has examined the issue has determined that the claim that Democrats favor “killing a baby up until birth” is a lie. To tell a lie that obvious and disgusting reveals a person who has abandoned reality, reason, common sense, and basic human decency.

But here’s the worst part of Greene’s lie: that lie has become a mainstream Republican view. In recent years, prominent Republicans such as former Vice President Mike Pence, Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Rep. Elise Stefanik, and many others have claimed that Democrats support abortion-on-demand until birth. Rubio absurdly said Democrats support “infanticide.”

Even the supreme leader of the Republican Party himself has told this lie multiple times. For example, former President Donald Trump said at a 2020 rally, “Virtually every Democrat candidate has declared their unlimited support for extreme late-term abortion, ripping babies straight from the mother’s womb, right up until the very moment of birth.”

They’re all lying.

When I discuss abortion with Republicans, I’m almost always told that I support killing babies just before birth. I don’t, obviously. How can I have a reasonable discussion with someone who believes a monstrous lie about my views?

It’s not shocking that Republican politicians lie. That’s become the hallmark of their party. For decades, they’ve claimed that tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs and lower the deficit, which is untrue by any evidence-based measure. Republicans claim that Democrats hate America and God. Their media mouthpieces say that Democrats are trying to replace white Americans with brown immigrants while claiming that Democrats are the real racists because we think it makes sense to understand racism’s role in American history. Republicans have morphed the Jan. 6 insurrection into a tourist outing. And Republican leaders call vaccine and mask mandates tyranny instead of what they really are: life-saving public health policies.

All these bedrock Republican positions are complete whoppers. Polls show that a majority of Republicans even believe the “big lie” that Trump actually won the 2020 election. In reality, President Joe Biden won the popular vote by more than seven million votes and the Electoral College 306-232. Every subsequent recount and court challenge confirmed Biden’s win. Yet the Republican “big lie” continues to flow.

Sure, many Democratic politicians engage in rhetorical spin and sometimes misstate facts. But Democrats don’t lie with the frequency or intensity as Republicans. Lies as egregious as those routinely told by Republican politicians shouldn’t be rewarded with the vote of a single American.

Here’s the real Democratic position on the specific issue Greene and her fellow Republicans have been lying about: We believe that women should control their own bodies, including reproductive freedom. We also believe that any woman facing the tragic situation of health issues at any stage of pregnancy should be able to make her own decisions without having to follow arbitrary edicts from the government — especially not liars in government.

Greene apparently didn’t think it would help her cause if her performance on the Capitol steps went like this: “Letting women make their own decisions is murder!” A more responsible representative might have said in a reasonable voice, “I disagree with you on policy positions relating to abortion.” Even better, Greene could have done what members of Congress are actually supposed to do. She could have marched down the Capitol steps, gone to her office, done some basic research on the issue, consulted experts, listened to her constituents’ real-life experiences, and helped bring forth sensible legislation to make the lives of everyday citizens better.

Nope. Greene would rather yell lies than do her damned job.

And that pretty much sums up the current situation in the United States Congress. Democrats aren’t perfect, but they’re doing the difficult and contentious work of crafting significant legislation to help the American people. Republicans? They’ve checked out from the responsible government and are hurling lies like reckless hecklers.

This is our choice in November 2022, America. Please choose wisely.

John Sheirer is an author and teacher from Florence. His latest book is “Stumbling Through Adulthood,” a collection of short stories. Find him at JohnSheirer.com.


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