Republican former Congressman Newt Gingrich, who has remained a ubiquitous voice in conservative politics despite leaving office in 1999, is once again dominating the political news cycle.
Gingrich is being slammed following a tweet in which he called Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a Latina, and Maxine Waters of California, who is Black, a "lynch mob" for supporting the ousting of freshman Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. Greene supported calls for the murder of certain Democratic politicians, recorded herself harassing Parkland school shooting survivors, demanded Muslim lawmakers be forced to retake the oath of office on a Christian Bible, etc...
The comments and videos have drawn widespread outrage.
The U.S. has a long history of using "lynch mobs" to enforce slavery, Jim Crow laws and white supremacist norms by dismembering and publicly executing Black people, often simply for sport.
White people frequently attended lynchings en masse as public gatherings, and postcards commemorating the events were a frequent souvenir. People of color were often forced to attend lynchings as well, as a means of terrorizing them into submission.
Given this history, many found Gingrich's naming of two women of color a "lynch mob" shockingly offensive. That Gingrich made the comment in defense of Taylor Greene makes them all the more incendiary.
Though she has recently disavowed it, Greene has long been an adherent of the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory which states that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibal pedophiles that Donald Trump is working to prosecute.
Recently recirculated social media posts depict a Greene who is far more dangerous: She has expressed support for the executions of Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democratic former President Barack Obama and Democratic former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
White nationalists and QAnon adherents came dangerously close to accessing Speaker Pelosi and other politicians during the January 6 coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol, and scores of social media communications have shown that executing her, Ocasio-Cortez and several other politicians was many rioters' reason for joining the insurrection.
Many believe Greene, who openly called for the confrontation in social media posts, helped incite that incident.
Nevertheless, top House Republican Kevin McCarthy has chosen to elevate Greene to a position of power, appointing her to the House Education and Labor Committee. In response, 50 Democratic legislators have signed on to a resolution to expel Greene from Congress, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Maxine Waters among them.
Given that 48 other legislators of all races and genders also signed onto that resolution, many found it curious that Gingrich chose only to name two women of color in his "lynch mob" accusation, and his comments drew immediate backlash.
Gingrich was Speaker of the House from 1995 until 1999.
He is widely credited by scholars as having written the playbook by which most Congressional Republicans continue to govern, ushering in an era of hyper-partisanship, undermining key federal procedural norms and using government shutdowns as a way to derail legislation.