A first-time congresswoman from Georgia who mistakenly referred to Guam as foreign land when she railed against federal financial aid going overseas will soon get cookies from the island that bills itself "Where America's day begins."
"I'm a regular, normal person. And I wanted to take my regular – normal 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," said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Feb. 27 at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which headlined former President Donald Trump. "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."
Although her speech happened last month, a video of her full remarks was posted to YouTube on Tuesday.
Guam has been a part of the United States since 1899, and people born on Guam have been U.S. citizens since 1950. Controversial comments from Greene have been met with rebukes from Democrats and Republicans, but local leaders providing reactions to The Guam Daily Post struck a more cordial tone.
"Congresswoman Greene is a new member, and we will be paying a visit to her and delivering delicious Chamorro Chip Cookies as part of our ongoing outreach to new members to introduce them to our wonderful island of Guam," said Del. Michael San Nicolas. He also referred to using "cookie diplomacy" in Congress during his annual address to the Legislature last year.
From the governor's office, director of communications Krystal Paco-San Agustin said: "We would be more than happy to send Representative Greene's office a copy of 'Destiny's Landfall: A History of Guam.' "
'This wonderful part of America'
A two-time former chairman of the Republican Party of Guam, Phil Flores said he had called Greene's office. She wasn't available, so Flores talked to one of her assistants.
"I said Guam is a part of America. We have been for 122 years," said Flores, who shared with the assistant his role with the Republican Party locally as well as his 15- to 16-year stint as a member of the Republican National Committee.
"I'm calling to educate her."
Flores said Greene's comments and lack of knowledge about Guam "was really disappointing."
"You see it every once in a while, 'Where's Guam?' And obviously we don't expect to be as well known in the mainland as perhaps California or New York, but more people should know about this wonderful part of America," Flores said.
He said there's still a lot of education necessary in some parts of the world about Guam and other Pacific islands, and the role they've played historically and in current global affairs.
"I've done much traveling in Asia ... and people in Asia know about Guam, especially here in Korea, Taiwan, Japan. But if you go to some places in the states ... they will not know about Guam," he said.
Flores said earlier in his career he had come across people who had no idea where Guam was, even so far as placing it in the continent of Africa.
He also shared a story of his son, who while at West Virginia University and enjoying a night out with his friends, would show his Guam ID at a bar or pub.
"They would not accept his Guam ID because it's from a 'foreign country,'" Flores said. His son would have to bring his U.S. passport with him because "people don't know what Guam is."
Flores encourages people to call Greene's office and share a little bit about Guam.
Sen. Telena Nelson, who chairs the legislative committee that includes federal affairs, said the comments were "appalling" coming from a member of Congress.
"This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that our island is mistaken for foreign soil when the fact remains that we have been woven into the fabric of the United States for over a century," she told The Guam Daily Post. "Our mutually beneficial relationship with the United States has long afforded us many privileges, however, our people and our many contributions remain unknown and unimportant to many Americans. This urges us to not only continue making our island known, but to also amplify our voices and implore our national and federal governments to give Guåhan and our people the committed support we need in our quest for self-determination."
Controversial comments, actions
Greene has landed in national news for posting an anti-transgender sign outside of her congressional office.
She also has been heavily criticized for embracing a number of conspiracy theories, according to The Poynter Institute, adding: "She's promoted QAnon and Pizzagate theories. She's claimed that the California wildfires were ignited by space lasers."
A 2019 video of Greene confronting shooting survivor David Hogg has also gone viral. On Jan. 19, Media Matters reported that in a 2018 Facebook comment, Greene agreed with the conspiracy theory that the Parkland shooting was a planned event done to crack down on gun rights, according to Poynter. Hogg is a survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 people in 2018.