'Whatever gets the job done': AOC double standard on political violence

In contrast to her sweeping claims of guilt by association in the Capitol riot, Ocasio-Cortez offered mostly rationalizations and relativism in response to the violence and destruction accompanying the protests that swept much of the country last year.

Updated: January 30, 2021 - 6:02pm

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In the weeks since an unruly mob forced its way into the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who was among the hundreds of representatives evacuated ahead of the Jan. 6 riot, has relentlessly accused Republicans of complicity in the attack, which resulted in multiple deaths.

Former President Donald Trump's claims of a rigged 2020 election, along with Republican efforts to challenge congressional certification of the result, according to Ocasio-Cortez, incited the mob that poured into the Capitol Building, destroying property and assaulting guards. 

Ocasio-Cortez's attacks on Republican complicity in the events of Jan. 6 reached full boil this week when the congresswoman accused Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of "trying to get [her] killed" during the riot. Responding to Cruz's signaling his apparent desire to work with her on the issue of financial oversight, Ocasio-Cortez wrote back: "I am happy to work with Republicans on this issue where there's common ground, but you almost had me murdered 3 weeks ago so you can sit this one out."

"[I]f you want to help, you can resign," she added. 

Ocasio-Cortez's verbal assault on Cruz prompted Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) to urge a congressional censure of the congresswoman.

In contrast to her sweeping claims of guilt by association in the Jan. 6 riot, Ocasio-Cortez offered mostly rationalizations and relativism in response to the often violent and destructive Black Lives Matter protests that swept much of the country last spring and summer. 

Sparked by the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd while in police custody, the protests against police brutality and "systemic" racism devolved into fiery riots, with significant portions of major urban areas at times being engulfed in violence, burning buildings, clashes with police, looting and general mayhem. The deaths of nearly 20 Americans were linked to the protests and associated riots, which also caused upwards of $2 billion in damage

A month after the riots had begun and after numerous Americans had died during them, Ocasio-Cortez praised the overall movement for having reportedly awakened so many Americans to the realities of alleged racial injustice — praise she offered without noting the deadly violence that had accompanied the effort. 

"I think that these protests have absolutely woken a lot of people up," she told TMZ. 

"Now, you have to acknowledge that it's a place of privilege to be woken up to this," she said. "If you never knew this was an issue before and you're realizing it now, you know, there's a huge privilege in that."

"But, listen, whatever gets the job done gets it done," she added, "and if you were out in the street, or if you were supporting a bail fund, or if you were posting things to social media — you were part of that movement, and we're seeing that in the poll numbers."

On May 30 last year, Ocasio-Cortez released a video on Instagram in which she implied that individuals calling for an end to the country's violent unrest should be prepared to give into protesters' demands as a condition of doing so. 

"If you are calling for an end to this unrest, and if you are a calling for an end to all of this, but you are not calling for the end of the conditions that created the unrest, you are a hypocrite," she said in the video.

"So if you're out here calling for the end of unrest," she continued, "then you better be calling for health care as a human right, you better be calling for accountability in our policing, you better be supporting community review boards, you better be supporting the end of housing discrimination ... Because if you don't call for those things, and you're asking for the end of unrest, all you're asking for is the continuation of quiet oppression."

At the time of that video, several individuals had already died in connection with the protests.

On that same day, the congresswoman uploaded a poster to her Instagram in which she offered readers tips on "protesting safely," including "cover[ing] identifying tattoos," wearing "heat resistant gloves," and disabling data services and facial ID recognition on one's mobile phone.

Earlier in the day, protesters in Ocasio-Cortez's home of New York City had thrown a Molotov cocktail at a New York Police Department vehicle. On May 31, meanwhile, protesters would attempt to burn down the historic St. John's Church in Washington, just a short walk from the U.S. Capitol where Ocasio-Cortez works. 

The congresswoman later that day did at one point call for a "de-escalation" of violence, at least in New York City, though she did so only after an incident in which New York police attempted to maneuver a vehicle through a crowd of protesters. "We cannot descend into the chaos of violence," she said. 

Ocasio-Cortez's relative indifference and evasions with respect to last summer's eruption of left-wing violence stood in sharp contrast to the example of fellow progressive "Squad" member, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who on May 31 criticized "people who exploit the pain that communities are feeling and ignite violence."

"In Minneapolis," Omar said, "we have marched. We have protested. We have organized. And when we see people setting our buildings and our businesses ablaze, we know those are not people who are interested in protecting black lives."

Elsewhere, in the wake of the riots, numerous Democratic leaders such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Cory Booker offered equivocations and rationalizations of the violence that had claimed multiple lives throughout the country. 

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's office did not respond to a request for comment on the numerous instances in which she appeared to excuse or gloss over the fatal riots that erupted across the country last year.