Let’s fix a myth: Marjorie Taylor Greene is not from the North Georgia District she won in. I lived in Rome, Georgia. I went to school there. It’s a lovely place full of kind-hearted mountain folks and some brilliant minds, and a wonderful college – Berry College – which I loved attending.
Marjorie Taylor Greene was born in Milledgeville, Georgia. She grew up in a wealthy home. She attended South Forsyth High School in a suburb of Atlanta. She attended the University of Georgia, which runs about $27,000 a year for non-scholarship students. She and her husband Perry own a $1 million, 5bdrm, 5bath home on 4 acres of wooded land in an Atlanta suburb. Her father sold the couple the family business. Perry runs it.
While it is true that her school was evacuated in 1990 when an armed student, Randall Floyd Addis, took two classes hostage, Greene was not in either of those classes (I fact-checked with the school) and was not under any threat or danger, despite her claims to knowing the fear Parkland students faced. Even if it were true that she knew such fear, how does she then rationalize dogging a 18-year-old Parkland survivor and verbally abusing him? (A confidential source told me there have been mental health issues in the family that have led to institutionalization. That might help explain the conspiracy thinking).
Georgia’s 14th Congressional District is sparsely populated – about 732,00 people, a quarter of whom don’t have a high school education. Only 16 percent of the population has a college degree. It is primarily white, primarily Baptist. The average income ranges from $20,000 to $38,000.
I point all of this out to say, Greene knows exactly what she is doing. Salon.com reported that despite her opposition to the stimulus funding and the PPP loans, her family’s company, Taylor Commercial, received a six-figure PPP loan worth between $150,000 and $350,000 in 2020. The New York Magazine reported that her name had stopped appearing on the company’s registration forms in 2012 but was added back in 2019. Greene, loaned her campaign $900,000, then donated $450,000 to her campaign about two months after the family business collected the PPP loan, according to FEC filings.
She could not get elected from the Alpharetta/Roswell district where she lived, so she chose one of the poorer, least educated regions of Georgia to run a big dollar campaign. She told those people in North Georgia that she was a Christian. She told them that Democrats wanted to take away their guns. She told them Democrats were going to ruin their lives. She has made black people and Jews and anyone not from the hill towns of Georgia, where family land is a person’s legacy, that they were going to lose everything unless they voted her in. She pretended she was one of them. She is still pretending.
People in these mountain communities are raised up on myth. Storytelling has long been part of their DNA. So when someone comes in spouting conspiracy theory, it doesn’t sound much different than the stories they’ve heard all their lives. Mark of the Beast. Winged creatures. Burning bushes. People turned to pillars of salt. Whores seducing good men. These are the stories they’ve heard and repeated for generations upon generations. So the notion of a coming battle between good and evil is something they have been primed for.
To them, MT Greene looks like the aging homecoming queen. She feels like somebody they have known all their lives. That’s her attraction. They think they know her. She reminds them of someone they knew in their high school days. They don’t see her for the devil in disguise that she is. She hides her money, her family business, her connections. She purposely creates that vacuum so that those who elected her can fill in the background they want to believe.
It makes me sad to hear national media and others trash the people of Greene’s district, or to paint them as some rendition of a James Dickey novel. The people who elected Greene were duped. They were deceived. There’s a reason propaganda comes with such a high price tag.
Those high-powered propaganda lawyers and media firms that helped put Greene in office cost a pretty penny. Maybe even our pennies, if those PPP loans are any indication.
Don’t mark her up as a fool. Fueled by her Daddy’s money and ours, she is a threat to this Republic and to Democracy.
Karen Spears Zacharias was raised up right in Georgia. She is the author of numerous books including Christian Bend: A Novel (Mercer University Press, Macon).