In March 2021, social media posts and news articles claimed that controversial first-term Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia appeared to show a gap in her knowledge of U.S. geography by referring to Guam, a U.S. territory, as a foreign country.
On March 11, the left-leaning Facebook page Call to Activism posted a widely shared meme that included a photograph of Taylor Greene, along with the following text:
Marjorie Taylor Green [sic] says American dollars should not go to foreign countries like Guam.
Guam is an American territory.
What do you say to her?
Those descriptions were accurate. During remarks she made on the fringes of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Feb. 27, Taylor Greene did indeed refer to Guam as a foreign country that should not receive aid funded by American taxpayers. As such, we are issuing a rating of "Correct Attribution."
What Taylor Greene Said
Neither the official CPAC agenda nor the list of speakers included Taylor Greene, so it's not clear what the status was of the remarks she made at the event on Feb. 27. She appears to have spoken on the fringes of the event, in what looked like a small room, and without a microphone.
She live-streamed her remarks on her Facebook page, and the full video is available here. In her speech, Taylor Greene presented herself as a Washington outsider fighting for traditional American Christian values on behalf of neglected voters such as those in her audience. Around the 12-minute mark, she continued in that vein:
You see, what's running Washington and our federal government, it's a whole different class of people that cannot connect with you, because they do not understand how you think. They have to do polls to figure out "What do these people want?" which is always shocking to me.
They have to do polls and figure out "How do we make this candidate appealing and electable?" "What should his message be?" So they do things like this to get people elected, right? Well I don't like that. I'm a regular person, and I wanted to take my regular person, normal, everyday American values, which is — we love our country, we believe our hard-earned tax dollars should just go for America, not for, what, China, Russia, the Middle East, Guam, whatever, wherever. Right? If we want to build roads, if we want to put money into schools, if we want to build border walls, we want it right here at home. This is easy to me. It's easy to us. But it's not easy to Washington. [Emphasis is added].
Taylor Green did not explicitly state that "Guam is a foreign country," and the Call to Activism meme correctly did not present its description of her words as a direct quotation.
However, the context of her remarks makes it clear she did indeed refer to Guam as such. She argued that taxpayer-funded expenditures should be kept within the U.S. for infrastructure, education, and so on "at home," rather than being distributed as aid overseas. In making that point, she listed several examples of foreign countries and regions, and included Guam in that list.
As a result, we are issuing a rating of "Correct Attribution."
In reality, of course, Guam is not a foreign country. It has been a U.S. territory since 1898, and its residents have been U.S. citizens by birth, since 1950. Hence the ridicule to which Taylor Greene's remarks have since been subjected.
We asked Taylor Greene's spokesperson why she had included Guam, a U.S. territory inhabited by American citizens, in a list of foreign countries and regions that she believes should not receive money from the U.S. We did not receive a response.