This week, Trump-supporting and apparently attention-hungry Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz wore a gas mask to a vote on legislation providing emergency funding for dealing with the Coronavirus. Although Gaetz defended wearing the gas mask by claiming members of Congress are like “human petri dishes” and refused to take it off even after the Sergeant-at-Arms for the chamber requested that he do so, there is absolutely no documentable reason for the spectacle — those masks aren’t even used for medical protection. The day after Gaetz’s display, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) criticized Gaetz and pointed out that when the Illinois Congressman wore a hoodie onto the House floor in 2012 to protest racial profiling — just a hoodie — he was escorted out, unlike Gaetz.
Alongside a pair of photos of him with his hoodie on and Gaetz with his gas mask, Rush shared:
‘In 2012, I wore a hoodie on the House Floor to make a statement about the deadly consequences of racial profiling. On Wednesday, @RepMattGaetz wore a gas mask in the chamber, making light of an epidemic that has killed 14 Americans. Guess which one of us was forcibly removed.’
In 2012, I wore a hoodie on the House Floor to make a statement about the deadly consequences of racial profiling. On Wednesday, @RepMattGaetz wore a gas mask in the chamber, making light of an epidemic that has killed 14 Americans.
Guess which one of us was forcibly removed. pic.twitter.com/nh2LHPeIFW
— Bobby L. Rush (@RepBobbyRush) March 6, 2020
It’s actually the same individual serving as the House’s Sergeant-at-Arms now who served in the role when Rush was escorted off the floor, but there’s one significant difference — the House had just been retaken by a Republican majority in 2012 when Rush made his display.
Gaetz, for his part, seems to have been playing into Trump’s own dismissal of coverage of the negative effects of the Coronavirus with his mask. Throughout the weeks that the illness has been detected in the United States, Trump has consistently dismissed the threat; at one rally, he even called concerned observers’ reactions to the deteriorating situation Democrats’ “new hoax.” Elsewhere, he suggested that media coverage of the deadly and still spreading illness was part of some kind of fatalistic, doomsday conspiracy to make him look bad — and Gaetz might agree.
He’s put on stunts before. When impeachment hearings were just getting underway, he led a contingent of his fellow Republicans in barging into the hearing chamber in use at the time, which was supposed to be secure. His stated purpose was protesting Republicans’ supposed inappropriate exclusion from the proceedings. However, Republicans were already in the room, because they were a part of the committee hosting the hearing too, of course. It was just a stunt.
Check out Twitter’s response…