My general position on last week’s Tennessee flap was that the expulsions may have been a bit heavy-handed, despite clear cause for disciplinary action. Ejecting elected representatives from a legislative body is a very serious step, and should generally be avoided to the greatest extent possible.
Instead, perhaps some combination of formal censures, stripping of committee assignments, and an official final warnings against future misconduct (more instances of which would result in a zero tolerance response) may have been the better path. Plus, it would’ve denied these loud showboats the tribal martyrdom and accompanying prominence they clearly crave and relish.
If there’s one thing America’s journo class absolutely loves, it’s lefty protests. It makes them feel vicariously alive, imbued with excitement and solidarity. Right-wing equivalents are, of course, seen as unsettlingly strange at best, and “threats to democracy” at worst.
And thus, utterly predictably, the Tennessee Three have been made into newly-minted stars by the news media and the broader Left. Big congrats on the fame, guys — you followed the incentives, and now you’ve made it:
So this is a thing. I’m so happy we had the opportunity to talk about the gun violence problem on a national stage. We must act now. These young people (and their parents) want us to act now to save lives! pic.twitter.com/715WVXYv87
— Rep. Gloria Johnson (@VoteGloriaJ) April 10, 2023
Ms. Johnson even got to keep her job because just enough Republicans voted against her removal, due to the fact that she was verifiably less directly disruptive during the rules-breaking melee. She thanked them for their thoughtful nuance and forbearance by calling them racists. One of the ousted members is claiming he didn’t know that taking over the floor with a bullhorn and leading chanting to drown out governmental proceedings was against the rules. Given some of the comments I’ve seen from him elsewhere, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if he really is that obtuse. The apparent ringleader, however, seems to have known exactly what he was doing. Ex-Rep. Justin Jones has experience in this realm, after all. Strangely, this relevant little nugget was omitted from nearly all of the hero worship “news” coverage of the expulsions. I can’t imagine why:
A protester behind a series of recent demonstrations at the Tennessee state Capitol has been banned from the building and ordered to have no contact with House Speaker Glen Casada after being charged Thursday with assault. Justin Jones, 23, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of disorderly conduct after authorities say he threw a cup of coffee into an elevator, striking Casada and Rep. Debra Moody, R-Covington…According to arrest documents, Jones “attempted to push his way past uniformed state troopers” as he approached the elevator while yelling “Casada is a racist.” Jones then is accused of throwing a paper to-go cup “filled with an unknown liquid believed to be hot coffee” into the elevator. The liquid splashed onto Casada and Moody…
So in his days an unelected left-wing agitator, this man — then a divinity student — shoved police officers while accosting the Tennessee House Speaker, per police records, then allegedly hurled a cup of hot coffee at the man, striking his target and another GOP lawmaker. This conduct earned him a ban from the building. Democrats in Tennessee then decided it would be a good idea to nominate and elect Jones to that very chamber, where he flagrantly violated the rules, disrupting the legislative process with a new form aggressive agitation. And that’s not all. He also insulted another GOP colleague with a racial slur, because he’s classy that way:
Rep. Sabi "Doc" Kumar explaining how the only time in his 53 years in America—an immigrant—that he's been reduced to just the color of his skin was by Justin Jones.
"You put a brown face on white supremacy."—@brotherjones_ pic.twitter.com/Qfr4CvhtwK
— Megan Lee Writes (@MeganLeeWrites_) April 6, 2023
Notice how Jones doesn’t deny using the term in that clip, explaining proudly that he’d merely referred to this Indian-American first-generation immigrant as the “brown face of white supremacy.” Which…is not better. It’s a disgusting, racist thing to say, actually. All of this seems like meaningful context to the expulsion vote:
As an activist in 2019, Jones threw a hot cup of coffee at two Republican lawmakers, including the Speaker. Dems then saw fit to nominate & elect him to the chamber, where he insulted an immigrant GOP member with a racial slur, then violated the rules with the bullhorn stunt. https://t.co/J2qv99TwOG
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 10, 2023
And yet — again, very weirdly and inexplicably — the previous assault and racism has been almost entirely left out of the media hagiography of this guy. And when I say “inexplicably,” I mean “totally explicably.” He’s the new hotness in journalists’ progressive tribe, so unhelpful and unpleasant details are airbrushed away. The Goods are good, and the Bads are bad. That’s the point of this “reporting.” It’s how it works. Given his prior assault and subsequent ban, his appalling treatment of colleagues, and his obvious breach of legislative protocol, the expulsion of Jones was probably justified. But just because something is justified doesn’t necessarily make it the wise course of action, especially when dealing with people whose most valuable currency is victimhood. On the subject of victims, this is also clarifying and revealing regarding the Left’s priorities and sensibilities:
Conservatives ripped Vice President Kamala Harris’ surprise trip to Tennessee to meet with Democratic lawmakers ousted for disrupting deliberations at the state house — yet snubbing the victims of the mass shooting that sparked the demonstration. The Veep took a last-minute trip to the Tennessee capital Friday to meet with two state lawmakers who were expelled from the General Assembly for protesting in favor of gun control in the wake of the shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville that left six dead, including three children. Harris privately met with ousted Democratic Reps. Justin Jones and Rep. Justin Pearson — as well as Rep. Gloria Johnson, who avoided expulsion by just one vote, CNN reported. She also met with advocates and the entire Democratic Tennessee state caucus — but notably did not visit the victims and families of the deadly school shooting, sparking intense outrage from critics.
Harris made a hastily-arranged trip to Tennessee on Good Friday, where she gave an angry, partisan sermon attacking Republicans — but couldn’t be bothered to meet with the families of the innocent people who were slaughtered by a trans shooter in the run-up to holy week. The trans community, incidentally, quickly supplanted the actual victims of that massacre as the True Victims in the Narrative, astoundingly hosting a “die in” at the Tennessee capital to accentuate their alleged victimhood, while demanding that the killer be honored among the victims of the murder spree she/he perpetrated. We are now on to a brand new round of True Victims: The Democratic politicians who were thrown out of office for violating the rules of the chamber in which they served. The Vice President, representing the White House, wanted to signal her solidarity with these True Victims. The families of the real, dead victims just weren’t worthy of any face time, apparently. Murdered victims are evidently seen as useful in the area of exploitation on behalf a political agenda, but if their other characteristics (or the identities and politics of their surviving loved ones) don’t fit a certain storyline, they’re instantly forgettable and disposable. Really healthy stuff.
This episode also underscores how the Biden administration can, in fact, rapidly deploy their principles when they see the potential for political gain or useful grandstanding. They mobilized to get the Vice President down there lickety-split for her faux-righteous jeremiad, even as they’ve encountered nothing but scheduling issues and other factors when it comes to meaningful visits to the border. She’s technically the ‘border czar,’ but it’s clearly not a task that she cares about in any way. We also saw a pile-up of scheduling conflicts preventing Biden and Harris from comforting the citizens of East Palestine, Ohio, after they were victimized by a terrible accident (which White House has dishonestly sought to blame on the opposition party). Again: Wrong types of victims. Not useful enough in key categories. Tough luck, pal; the president is busy. I’ll leave you with a former president briefly rousing himself from political hibernation to deliver one of his typically mendacious lectures, dripping with bogus high-mindedness, about the Tennessee hubbub:
What happened in Tennessee is the latest example of a broader erosion of civility and democratic norms. Silencing those who disagree with us is a sign of weakness, not strength, and it won’t lead to progress.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 7, 2023
If conservatives had coordinated a rules-breaking, disruptive protest that overwhelmed the legislative process on, say, the issue of abortion, there is a 0.0 percent chance Obama would weigh in with this message — certainly not on behalf of “our children.” Notice that his tsk-tsking on “civility” and “norms” is directed at the party that didn’t cause the uncivil, norms-breaking uproar, the purpose of which was to shut down actual debate. That’s a form of “silencing those who disagree with us.” But it’s a good form of that, you see, because the Goods are good and the Bads are bad. Adjust all current and future narratives accordingly.
Expel all democrats….from everything….now….please!