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Editorial | Malliotakis right to reject Greene, wrong to embrace ‘whataboutism’

Nicole Malliotakis gets a hug in her victory in the 11th Congressional District from the Staten Island Republican County Chairman Brendan Lantry. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

We criticized Brooklyn/Staten Island Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis for her inexcusable electoral vote objections following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, but the freshman lawmaker deserves credit where it is due.

On Feb. 4, Malliotakis broke from the Trumpist Republican party line in joining 10 fellow GOPers in voting with Democrats to remove Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene — who apparently never met a conspiracy theory she didn’t like — from the House Committees on Education and Labor for her past violent, anti-Semitic statements, including 9/11 denialism.

Along with embracing Qanon, the insane conspiracy theory about a deep state crackdown against a satanic cannibal cult, Greene was also a 9/11 “truther.” The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were not an “inside job,” as “truthers” claim, and it would have been inexcusable for Malliotakis to have defended a Congresswoman who bought that bunk.

Malliotakis said as much in explaining her vote that bucked the ridiculous Republican party line supporting Greene. She rightly said that Greene’s “deeply disturbing and extraordinarily offensive” comments were “hurtful to thousands of 9/11 families and first responders, our Jewish community, and many others in our district.” 

Of course, Malliotakis couldn’t help but attach false equivalency to her defense of doing the right thing. 

She called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to similarly punish two prominent Democrats — including California Congressman Eric Swalwell and Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar — for past controversial actions and statements they’ve made. 

Reportedly, Swalwell had past ties to a Chinese spy who fundraised for his campaign, and Omar made statements about a pro-Israel lobbying group that were seen as anti-Semitic.

But none of their actions reached the level of Greene — who, along with denying 9/11, sent out a campaign flier of her holding an assault rifle superimposed with pictures of three Congresswomen as being “The Squad’s Worst Nightmare”; harassing a survivor of a mass school shooting; wildly suggesting that wildfires were started by a laser controlled by the Jewish Rothschild family; and embracing Qanon, a conspiracy theory that features the same anti-liberal, anti-Semitic tropes as Nazism

In her defensive quasi-apology of Feb. 4, Greene said, “I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true.” That loaded statement says a lot about her obvious disqualification from the House seat she holds — let alone the two committees from which she was removed.

But Greene isn’t the problem with the Republican Party. Neither is Malliotakis, for that matter.

It is the Washington “whataboutism,” that Malliotakis displayed in defending her vote, which has evolved into a perverted definition of Newton’s third law of motion — that every action requires an equal and opposite reaction. 

That’s true in physics, but not in politics.

It is this whataboutism that has caused Republicans to excuse and accept abhorrent behavior by their own comrades, when it should be universally rejected by both parties.

Until whataboutism is rejected, and both sides see right from wrong again, unity will remain elusive — at least in Washington.

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