Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. has invited Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to speak at the evangelical Christian school after quashing claims that he threatened her in comments he made about the Green New Deal and his herd of cattle at a Conservative Political Action Conference event last week.
A Twitter spat ensued after Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat congresswoman from New York, retweeted an incendiary clip posted by Bishop Talbert Swan of Spring of Hope Church of God in Christ in Springfield, Massachusetts, that shows Falwell speaking about concealed carry permits in 2015 following a terror attack at an office Christmas party in San Bernardino, California, where 14 people were killed and 21 others were injured.
“’I always thought that if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims [unintelligible] ...’” Ocasio-Cortez wrote alongside the retweeted video where she falsely claimed: “This was just this weekend at CPAC, the conference attended by the President and members, to 1000s. Where’s the resolution against Islamophobia?”
The clip, however, was from December 2015 following the San Bernardino terror attack, not last week's CPAC event.
And Falwell shot back a response.
“She claims this was @CPAC last week when it was actually in 2015 the day after the deadly CA attacks by radical Muslims (‘those’ Muslims I referenced) She also deleted the last part of my quote ‘before they walk in and kill us,’” he tweeted.
The dispute heated up when Ocasio-Cortez shared another video on Twitter by Vic Berger IV, who claimed that it showed Falwell “threatening to shoot @AOC at @CPAC this past weekend.”
The clip, however, was shown without context.
During CPAC last week — held at National Harbor, Maryland, and three other locations including Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, last week — Falwell was among a number of speakers who poked fun at the targeting of cows in Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal.
A Green New Deal fact sheet released by Ocasio-Cortez’s office last month mentioned the need to "fully get rid of farting cows.”
An actual phrase in the proposal reads: "We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast."
While apparently joking about his family always being armed, Falwell suggested that Ocasio-Cortez would have a hard time if she tried to seize his 100 head of cattle.
“My boys always had guns in their hand," Falwell is heard saying in a clip that was retweeted by Ocasio-Cortez without an explanation that the discussion was about the movement to raise children gender neutral and gender fluid, and the tendency of girls to gravitate toward playing with dolls and their boys' interest in toy guns. "That’s not something you teach them, that’s something they’re born with. … As far as those cows you mentioned, I’ve got 100 cows — you just let Alexandria Cortez show up at my house and try to take my cows away,” Falwell said during a panel discussion with Donald Trump Jr. at Liberty University last Friday.
“I love cows, Jerry — they’re delicious,” Trump Jr. responded.
Last Thursday, North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows also quipped at the conference: “You know, with this Green New Deal, they’re trying to get rid of all the cows. But I’ve got good news: Chick-fil-A stock will go way up because we are gonna be eating more chicken!”
A short time later, Sebastian Gorka, a former official in President Trump’s administration, accused Democrats of wanting “to take away your hamburgers” and said burger-banning “is what Stalin dreamt about but never achieved.”
On Friday, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also quipped that he hopes “to see PETA supporting the Republican Party, now that the Democrats want to kill all the cows.”
Despite the disagreement, Falwell shot down the mischaracterization of his comments and invited Ocasio-Cortez to share her views at Liberty.
“@AOC Although we disagree on most of our politics, I would love to offer you the invite to come present your ideas at Liberty Convocation. Unlike most schools we welcome free speech and hearing from those who differ from our political views,” he tweeted.
Without speaking directly to the issue of farting cows, Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview on Showtime’s "Desus & Mero" that climate policy should examine reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
“In the deal, what we talk about is ... that we need to take a look at factory farming, period. It’s wild,” she told the hosts Desus Nice and The Kid Mero.
“And so it’s not to say you get rid of agriculture. It’s not to say we’re going to force everybody to go vegan or anything crazy like that. But it’s to say, listen, we’ve got to address factory farming. Maybe we shouldn’t be eating a hamburger for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Like, let’s keep it real,” she continued. “We have to take a look at everything.”
A report in The Hill noted that while cow flatulence is frequently noted as a source of methane, it is the cows' belches that produce the danger from their enteric fermentation. The Environmental Protection Agency says livestock, especially cows, generate nearly one third of the methane produced from agriculture and it is on the rise.
“Livestock, especially ruminants such as cattle, produce methane (CH4) as part of their normal digestive processes. This process is called enteric fermentation, and it represents almost one third of the emissions from the agriculture economic sector,” the agency notes.
But agriculture only accounts for 9 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to data from the EPA. Emissions from electricity and transportation sectors collectively account for 56 percent of the total while industry accounts for 22 percent. Commercial and residential activity produces 11 percent of the emissions.