On Thursday, a House committee on climate turned ugly when Republican Congressman Clay Higgins of Louisiana used bigoted and sexist terms directed at an expert on the issue and was then verbally eviscerated by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
According to HuffPost:
Raya Salter, an energy justice lawyer who serves on the New York State Climate Action Council, was invited to testify before House lawmakers during a hearing about the oil and gas industry’s lack of accountability and major role in the climate crisis. She said that the climate crisis is an “unprecedented global crime and the smoking gun lies in the hands of big oil and gas.”
Salter, a Black woman, talked about the disproportionate impact that the fossil fuel industry has had on Black and brown communities, as well as low-income families. She said that corporations are trying to shift the blame for the climate crisis to individual consumers and environmental activists instead of focusing on the real solution: transitioning away from fossil fuels.
Higgins began his questioning with this:
Salters responded, as Higgins tried to talk over her:
“If I had that power in the world – actually, I don’t need that power because what I would do is ask you, sir, from Louisiana, to search your heart and understand why the EPA knows that toxic petrochemical facilities are some of the most toxic polluting facilities in the world and are killing Black people throughout Louisiana.”
That’s when Higgins turned into a condescending piece of excrement:
“My good lady. I’m trying to give you the floor, boo,” Higgins said as he continued speaking over her. “Boo” is a common term of endearment in the Black community, however, when used sarcastically – as the white congressman apparently did – it can be considered disrespectful, racist and misogynistic.
Higgins also invoked religion, suggesting that God gave man the power to care for the Earth, to which Salter replied:
That led Higgins to start yelling:
Ocasio-Cortez then took a verbal scalpel to Higgins and exposed him as the disgusting asshole he is:
“In the four years that I’ve sat on this committee, I have never seen members of Congress – Republican or Democrat – disrespect a witness in the way that I have seen them disrespect you today. I do not care what party they are in, I’ve never seen anything like that.
“And for the gentleman of Louisiana, and the comfort that he felt in yelling at you like that – there’s more than one way to get a point across. Frankly, men who treat women like that in public, I fear how they treat them in private. We can be better than this.”