Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is no stranger to attention. The second-term congresswoman was the second most talked-about politician in 2019, just behind then-President Donald Trump. AOC loves to frequently jump on livestream videos to talk directly to her fans and voters, whether while she’s making macaroni, building furniture, or playing a wildly popular multiplayer game. It was during one of these Instagram livestreams on Monday night that she committed perhaps her gravest sin yet as a politician.
AOC, who has somehow not yet dried the well of public sympathy for the January 6 storming of the Capitol, linked the experience to an alleged sexual assault she suffered in the past:
‘The reason I’m getting emotional in this moment is because these folks who tell us to move on, that it’s not a big deal, that we should forget what’s happened, or even telling us to apologize — these are the same tactics of abusers. And I’m a survivor of sexual assault and I haven’t told many people that in my life, but when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other.’
This is gross manipulation, and AOC should be ashamed. Not for sharing that she was sexually assaulted — I have no way of knowing whether or not her story is true and, ultimately, it’s irrelevant to the issue of the storming of the Capitol. The real story here is that AOC used her alleged trauma as a cudgel against her political opponents. She has weaponized her alleged experience to silence anyone who criticizes her and even went so far as to compare them to the person or people who abused her. This type of behavior cheapens sexual assault.
AOC had to bring sexual assault into her discussion about the Capitol riot because her telling of events is indeed overly dramatic and, frankly, delusional. Most people will be discouraged from saying so because they don’t want to be accused of being misogynistic or insufficiently sensitive to her ‘trauma’. But here are the facts. AOC was not the main target of the rioters. Reporters on the scene claimed they heard people threatening to hang Vice President Mike Pence, and bombs planted the night before the event were found at both the RNC and the DNC. AOC previously made light of a rioter who tweeted ‘assassinate AOC’, writing that ‘you have to laugh’ at people who incriminate themselves on the internet. On her livestream Monday, she said she believed she was going to die during the riot when she heard someone banging on her office door. It ended up being a Capitol police officer who she claimed did not announce himself and approached her with ‘hostility’.
It’s also worth examining AOC’s accusation that her political opponents are comparable to sexual or emotional abusers. This comment stems from another sickening allegation she made against Republican senator Ted Cruz. After Cruz expressed support for AOC’s call to investigate the Robinhood app over its halting of certain stock market trades, AOC accused the senator of conspiracy to murder:
‘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. Happy to work w/ almost any other GOP that aren’t trying to get me killed.’
AOC did not elaborate how, exactly, Cruz had tried to have her killed. Some on the left have claimed that contesting the results of the election or even broaching the topic of voter fraud is an incitement to violence. This is obviously nonsense that would be laughed out of a court room. As such, some of Cruz’s Republican colleagues wrote a letter demanding AOC apologize for her ridiculous claim. AOC claimed these individuals and Cruz, who said Congress should ‘move on’ from the incident rather than impeach a president who is no longer in office, were using the ‘tactics of abusers’.
AOC has effectively made it so that the only people who can now challenge her are fellow survivors of sexual assault. Otherwise, you simply cannot understand her lived experiences and her trauma. But trauma is not something that should be employed to win political arguments. That is textbook manipulation, and honest brokers will see AOC’s ploy for what it really is.