It does not require a quantum computer to ﬁgure out what would have happened if, instead of the more than 2,000 insurrectionists who staged a violent attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, they had been African Americans ﬁnally grown impatient with the authorities’ failure to address systemic racism and provide reparations for 250 years of slavery.
The answer is that there would have been a bloodbath, even if the African Americans were unarmed and nonviolent, because then president Donald J. Trump would have swiftly sent troops to disperse them with a shoot-to-kill order.
Indeed, what would have happened if the insurrection had taken place when Barack H. Obama was president and he had refused to call it off or to send reinforcements to help the beleaguered Capitol Police?
And then there is George Santos.
Santos made several now debunked claims in his successful campaign to win a seat in Congress: that he is the grandson of Ukrainian Jewish refugees who survived the Holocaust; his mother died in the 9/11 terrorist attack; he graduated from Baruch College and New York University; he worked at Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and private equity companies and formed his own business; his family owned 13 rental properties; he came into millions of dollars in 18 months; he operated an animal rescue charity which saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats; he developed “carbon capture technology.” Confronted with these and other lies about himself, Santos admitted only to “résumé embellishment.”
Further, in 2008, when Santos was 19, he stole the checkbook of his mother’s caregiver and used it to make purchases, including a pair of shoes, The New York Times reported, citing court records in his native Brazil. He confessed two years later and was charged but the case remains unresolved because Santos did not respond to a summons and the Brazilian authorities could not locate him. The case is being reopened.
It was not as if Santos’ fake life story was not known prior to the election for a New York congressional seat in November, which he won. The local North Shore Leader newspaper published a report in September — two months before the voting — calling attention to Santos’ “inexplicable rise” in reported net worth, from being broke in 2020 to coming into as much as $11 million two years later.
“Interestingly, Santos shows no U.S. real property in his ﬁnancial disclosure, although he has repeatedly claimed to own ‘a mansion in Oyster Bay Cove’ on Tiffany Road and ‘a mansion in the Hamptons’ on Dune Road,” the Leader’s managing editor Maureen Daly reported. “For a man of such alleged wealth, campaign records show that Santos and his husband live in a rented apartment, in an attached rowhouse in Queens.”
The Washington Post cited the Leader’s report in its own expose on Santos on Dec. 31, after The Times did so on Dec. 19 – weeks after Santos was elected. Neither newspaper explained why they failed to pick up on the story earlier.
What would have happened if Santos were an African American? There would have been no chance that he would have won because African American males are scrutinized and discriminated against from an early age, according to Shaun R. Harper, a racial equity scholar and provost professor in the Rossier School of Education and the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.
“He would’ve been more thoroughly vetted prior to being allowed to run for the seat to represent New York’s third congressional district. If not prior to the primary, his lies deﬁnitely would’ve come out before the November general election,” Harper wrote in Forbes on Dec. 29.
That is because “consequence inequities” – a term Harper coined for his commentary — follow African American boys “from school to work. Across industries, many Black men who participate in my workplace climate studies frequently talk about how there’s a different standard for them. It isn’t just a feeling. Most have examples of inappropriateness or policy violations their white male coworkers got away with in the workplace, yet they and other Black male professionals were penalized or ﬁred for doing the same or less egregious versions thereof. This racialized double standard impacts Black men’s careers across all levels, from custodial workers to C-suite executives to the American presidency.”
Harper has no doubt that if Obama behaved as Trump did during the Capitol insurrection, he “would’ve been impeached and swiftly evicted from the White House. … In fact, he never would’ve been elected had an audio recording emerged of him bragging about sexually assaulting women or if he said even a fraction of the outrageously offensive things Trump said while campaigning for the presidency.”
Whether Santos will be held to account for lying his way into Congress remains to be seen. Several jurisdictions have announced plans to investigate him, including the U.S. attorney’s ofﬁce in the Eastern District of New York. The authorities would no doubt also want to look into information on his candidate disclosure forms showing he loaned his campaign $700,000 during the elections, donated thousand dollars to other candidates, had a salary of $750,000 and received dividends of more than $1 million from his company, the Devolder Organization. And then there is the question of check forgery back in Brazil.
As for his presence in Congress, he was sworn in as a member last week: The Constitution does not allow for him to have been barred from taking his seat, because he was duly elected. The House could launch an ethics probe and expel him, based on the ﬁndings, but it is doubtful whether the Republican-controlled chamber will want to do that and run the risk that a Democrat could be elected to replace him, cutting into the party’s already slim majority.
This is not your father’s Republican Party. This is the Republican Party of Trump, whom Santos cited as his model for running for Congress because “I thought Donald Trump, if he made it, it was time for everyone to have an opportunity.” They also have lying in common: Trump made more than 30,573 lies or misleading statements during his four years as president, according to a Washington Post database.
Political corruption, heightened by Trump as he promotes the lie that he won the 2020 election, is a new normal for him and his followers. It has worsened with the presence in Congress of his sycophants and followers of the still mysterious “Q” whose wildly incredible “revelations” have found fertile ground among millions of Americans. They include, most notably, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, along with several others also in Congress.
“The QAnon conspiracy theory is an anti-democratic, authoritarian fantasy that imagines a ‘globalist’ or ‘deep state’ cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles — many prominent Democrats among them — who will soon be arrested en masse, and possibly executed, by former President Donald Trump,” HuffPost has noted. And then, of course, there are the politicians who pass laws forbidding teaching in schools and at businesses about the country’s slavery past and its legacy of institutionalized racism. It is their way of perpetuating the myths that the Civil War was not lost and that the United States was founded as a “white state.”
George Santos is merely the latest manifestation of the disease that infects the body politic.