US Elected Officials Keep Explicitly Supporting Genocide

Rep. Andy Ogles’s comment that “we should kill them all” in Gaza has drawn little outrage, to say nothing of public censure like what Rep. Rashida Tlaib has faced. That’s because openly calling for genocide of Palestinians has become normalized in America.

Representative Andy Ogles, a Republican from Tennessee, during a hearing in Washington, DC, on May 16, 2023. (Nathan Howard / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

You probably never heard of Representative Andy Ogles, a Tennessee Republican, until this week. The former Maury County, Tennessee, mayor had been quietly assembling a formidable résumé as one of Congress’s resident buffoons, a former Koch network lobbyist, and a poor man’s George Santos who had largely flown under the national radar as he racked up a string of embarrassing lies and scandals: posing with his family with assault rifles while running in a district that experienced a school shooting, raising $23,000 on GoFundMe to bury his stillborn child then never spending the money, lying about being an economist and an ex-cop who specialized in child sex trafficking.

Now Ogles can add one more incident to this impressive CV: calling for literal genocide.

The congressman was confronted earlier this week by a pro-Palestinian activist pressing him to support a cease-fire in Gaza. “I’ve seen the footage of shredded children’s bodies, and that’s my taxpayer dollars going to bomb those kids,” the young woman told Ogles as he walked through a congressional hallway.

“I think we should kill them all, if that makes you feel better,” he replied.

“Hamas and the Palestinians have been attacking Israel for twenty years, and it’s time to pay the piper,” he later added, to really drive the point home.

Ogles’s appalling statement has certainly made headlines three days in, though largely in local Tennessean outlets and progressive media. Other than coverage by Al Jazeera and the Times of Israel, the closest thing to a mainstream, national outlet consumed by Americans that has covered his remarks is, astoundingly, the pro-Israel Fox News. And besides Muslim and Palestinian rights groups and a Democratic member of the Nashville Metro Council, there has basically been no public condemnation of Ogles’s shocking comments by elected officials.

If you want to get a sense of how warped and deranged views on the Israel-Gaza conflict are in the US Congress — views that are objectively, wildly out of step with those of the voters it’s meant to represent — compare the muted response to what Ogles just said, to the firestorm that enveloped socialist Michigan representative Rashida Tlaib, Congress’s only Palestinian member, last year.

Tlaib’s crime was daring to include the Palestinian liberation slogan “From the river to the sea” in a video she posted on Twitter supporting a cease-fire, a slogan she later took care to specify was “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate.”

Tlaib was immediately piled on by fellow Democrats and even Vermont senator Bernie Sanders for using the phrase, seventy members of Congress signed onto a statement accusing her of using “a rallying cry for the . . . genocide of the Jewish people,” and outlets ranging from Newsweek and NBC News to the Associated Press and Politico covered her comments. The House even absurdly voted to censure her over use of the slogan, with twenty-two Democrats joining the GOP to do it.

Needless to say, nothing remotely approaching this level of outrage — in either the US Congress, nor the Democratic Party, nor even the press — has met Ogles for his statement, which, unlike Tlaib’s words, isn’t being interpreted by some as a call for genocide, but is a literal call for genocide.

This is the repulsive absurdity of Israel’s war on Gaza as filtered through the US Congress: call for Palestinian freedom, and you’re slapped down and accused of supporting genocide; call for every single Palestinian to be killed, and everyone shrugs.

But Ogles isn’t even the first US politician to say something like this since the war’s outbreak. Earlier this month, Representative Brian Mast, a Florida Republican, repeatedly told antiwar activists that Palestinian civilians, including children, should be murdered. “You haven’t seen the pictures of all the babies being killed?” one protester asked him.

“These are not innocent Palestinian civilians,” he replied.

“The half a million people starving to death are people that should go out there and put a government in place that doesn’t go out there and attack Israel on a daily basis,” a smirking Mast added, referring to Israel’s policy of deliberately engineered famine in the territory. At another point, Mast told a protester that “it would be better if you kill all the terrorists and kill everyone who are supporters” — meaning, civilians — calling this “a great solution.”

This is three months after Mast had urged his colleagues on the House floor “to not so lightly throw around the idea of innocent Palestinian civilians,” any more than they would “throw around the term ‘innocent Nazi civilians’ during World War II.”

That same month, another Floridian, Republican state representative Michelle Salzman, was caught on tape saying basically the same thing in the Florida legislature as Ogles just had. “We are at ten thousand dead Palestinians. How many will be enough?” asked her Democratic colleague Angie Nixon. “All of them,” replied Salzman.

The list goes on. Representative Max Miller, an Ohio Republican, told Fox that “we’re going to turn that” — meaning, the Gaza strip — “into a parking lot.”

“As far as I’m concerned, Israel can bounce the rubble in Gaza,” tweeted Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, in a reference to a Winston Churchill quote about the destruction caused by nuclear weapons.

South Carolina Republican senator Lindsay Graham has made a variety of similarly deranged genocidal comments. He called on Israel to “level the place,” charging that “the most radicalized people on the planet live in the Gaza Strip” who “have been taught since birth to kill and hate the Jews,” and stating flatly that “there is no limit” to the amount of civilian casualties Israel can inflict in its nominal goal of destroying Hamas.

It’s not just Republicans. Democratic New York governor Kathy Hochul recently justified what has now been declared by the International Court of Justice a plausible genocide by Israel by telling an audience the United States would do the exact same thing. “If Canada someday ever attacked Buffalo, I’m sorry my friends, there would be no Canada the next day,” she said.

This is itself an echo of the words of President Joe Biden, reportedly the driving force behind current US steadfast support for Israel’s military campaign, who just over forty years ago disturbed even then Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin when he endorsed his destruction of Beirut: “It was great! It had to be done! If attacks were launched from Canada into the United States, everyone here would have said, ‘Attack all the cities of Canada, and we don’t care if all the civilians get killed.’”

There’s been a lot of talk about how Congress could angrily condemn a statement by Tlaib they misconstrued as genocidal toward Israelis, while supporting what has now been declared by numerous experts an actual, ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people. It may well be that, as many of them have said quite openly, a shocking amount of US politicians simply genuinely believe in and support the mass extermination of Palestinians.