U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are sniping at each other on Twitter — over 20th-century Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
“We were the first to assert that the more complicated the forms assumed by civilization, the more restricted the freedom of the individual must become.” Benito Mussolini— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) February 24, 2019
On Sunday, Cornyn tweeted a Mussolini quote without providing context. Hours later, Cornyn explained that he was comparing Mussolini’s fascism to socialism and warning against federal government overreach. But the quote triggered a backlash from several journalists and liberal activists, given that Mussolini put numerous socialist opposition leaders to death.
The comparison also drew the Twitter ire of New York Democrat Ocasio-Cortez.
“A Republican senator full-on quoted National Fascist Party leader and Hitler ally Benito Mussolini like it’s a Hallmark card,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Cornyn responded that Ocasio-Cortez has “maybe one of the most uninformed opinions I have seen in... hours."
In 2016, President Donald Trump also caught flack for tweeting a Mussolini quote without context, after being baited into it by Gawker.
“Chuck, it's OK to know it's Mussolini,” Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd at the time.
“Look, Mussolini was Mussolini. It's OK to — it's a very good quote, it's a very interesting quote, and I know it.”