MTG Calls African American Festival Kwanzaa a ‘Fake Religion Created by a Psychopath’
19:32 GMT 29.12.2021 (Updated: 13:27 GMT 06.08.2022)
In her latest foray into American cultural commentary, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) took aim at Kwanzaa, a community festival celebrated by African Americans, attacking both the festival and a conservative political group that posted about it.
On December 26, the first day of the six-day festival, the College Republicans official Twitter account posted a simple message, writing “Wishing you a happy and prosperous Kwanza!” accompanied by a graphic of the seven-candled kinara candelabra used to mark each day of Kwanzaa.
However, many conservative posters took issue with the tweet, replying with messages questioning the purpose and wisdom of marking the holiday. None garnered greater attention than Greene, though, who called it “a fake religion created by a psychopath.”
“You aren’t bringing in new voters, you are turning them away,” she said, adding, “People are tired of pandering and BS.”
As is often the case, Greene got many of the basic facts wrong. Kwanzaa is a secular festival created by African American activist Maulana Karenga in 1966 as a way to celebrate seven values he felt were important to the Black community’s future. The festival’s name derives from a Swahili term for the first fruit of the season, an event that prompted celebrations in many traditional African cultures from which the ancestors of many African Americans were kidnapped and brought to the US by slave traders.
Karenga was a civil rights activist who formed the Black nationalist group US (as in, not “them”) in the aftermath of the 1965 Watts riots and assassination of Organization of Afro-American Unity founder Malcolm X with the aim of promoting Black cultural unity as a distinct national identity. This vision lent itself to holidays like Kwanzaa that promoted values like faith, cooperative economics, responsibility, and unity, but also brought them into conflict with the Black Panthers and their revolutionary socialist ideology that often exploded into violence between the two groups.
However, the College Republicans didn’t return fire after Greene’s criticisms, instead choosing simply to retweet other Republican accounts that also commemorated Kwanzaa, including several by former US President Donald Trump and his administration, with whom Greene has often aligned herself.
Greene only leapt to the national political stage in January, but she hasn’t failed to garner attention over the last 11 months with a near-constant barrage of what some might call “hot takes,” including numerous comparisons between pandemic response measures and the Holocaust. Recently, she jumped into a spat between freshman lawmaker Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and one of two Muslim women in Congress, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after Boebert insinuated Omar was a terrorist.