On Bigots and Bigotry

The terrible irony of the Ilhan Omar controversy is that it amounts to swarms of bigots using alleged bigotry as an excuse to hate-target a Muslim woman of color and feel righteous about it.

Paul Waldman wrote yesterday:

In what is surely the most shameful decision of her current term as speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has decided that the time has come for the House to rebuke Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for things she didn’t actually say, and ideas she didn’t actually express. In the process, Pelosi and other Democrats are helping propagate a series of misconceptions about anti-Semitism, Israel, and U.S. political debate.

I’m going to try to bring some clarity to this issue, understanding how difficult it can be whenever we discuss anything that touches on Israel.

To be clear, I do this as someone who was raised in an intensely Zionist family with a long history of devotion and sacrifice for Israel, but who also — like many American Jews — has become increasingly dismayed not only by developments in Israel but by how we talk about it here in the United States.

Of course, Democrats are well conditioned to assume the fetal position and plead guilty whenever the Right mounts one of these swarm attacks, and on cue they began an atonement/cleansing ritual in the form of the House rebuke of Rep. Omar.

But some Dems objected.

Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday defended Rep. Ilhan Omar against the backlash to her comments slamming pro-Israel groups and politicians, which have been called anti-Semitic.

Sanders, who is Jewish, said criticism of Omar and efforts to get her taken off the House Foreign Affairs Committee, primarily from House Republicans, are aimed at stopping a discussion about American’s foreign policy toward Israel.

“What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate,” the Vermont independent said in a statement. “That’s wrong.”

Warren expressed the same opinion, in so many words, and Harris expressed concern that the targeting of Omar was putting the congresswoman at risk.

What did she say this time? Back to Waldman:

In the latest round of controversy, Omar said during a town hall, regarding U.S. policy toward Israel, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

And this was a problem because …

This comment was roundly condemned by members of Congress and many others for being anti-Semitic. Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) called her statement “a vile anti-Semitic slur” and accused her of questioning “the loyalty of fellow American citizens.”

Pelosi then announced that the House would vote on a resolution which, while not mentioning Omar by name, is clearly meant as a condemnation of her. It contains multiple “whereas” statements about the danger of accusing Jews of “dual loyalty.”

But I don’t think she was talking about the “dual loyalty” of Jews. I think she was talking about the way Israel has become a third rail, or sacred cow, or whatever metaphor you want to hang on it ti indicate that Israel must not be criticized no matter what for fear of the critic being called anti-Semitic. We’re all being roped into dual loyalty, Jewish or not.


Here’s the truth: The whole purpose of the Democrats’ resolution is to enforce dual loyalty not among Jews, but among members of Congress, to make sure that criticism of Israel is punished in the most visible way possible. This, of course, includes Omar. As it happens, this punishment of criticism of Israel is exactly what the freshman congresswoman was complaining about, and has on multiple occasions. The fact that no one seems to acknowledge that this is her complaint shows how spectacularly disingenuous Omar’s critics are being. ……

…Ilhan Omar certainly didn’t say that Jews have dual loyalty. For instance, in one of the tweets that got people so worked up, Omar said, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.” You’ll notice she didn’t say or even imply anything at all about Jews. She said that she was being asked to support Israel in order to have the privilege of serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which was true. Many on the right have called for her to be removed from that committee (see here, or here, or here, or here). Her argument, to repeat, isn’t about how Jews feel about Israel, it’s about what is being demanded of her.

See also Wajahat Ali Rabia Chaudry in WaPo:

The firestorm around Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent tweets about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and criticism of Israel has drawn attention to what language rises to the level of anti-Semitism, the shamefuldouble standards for Muslims and people of color, and how anti-Semitism is often hypocritically used as a political bludgeon. GOP leadership has called for an official censure and her removal from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and House Democrats called for a resolution this weekdenouncing anti-Semitismafter Omar recently tweeted, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country,” which some have said plays on the anti-Semitic trope of dual loyalty. Notably, no such outrage from Republican members of Congress emerged after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy used anti-Semitic tropes during the 2018 midterm election or during much of the tenure of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who has a long history of making offensive comments about race and white nationalism.

In response, #IStandWithIlhan has trended with people, including Jews, who support the Muslim congresswoman. Omar (D-Minn.), who has faced anti-Muslim hate linking her to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and death threats, is being unfairly demonized for her critical comments on Israel and AIPAC, especially when compared to white Republican men like Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) who recently used “$teyer” in a tweet to refer to Jewish American billionaire Tom Steyer.

Monday night, President Trump tweeted that Omar’s comments are a “dark day for Israel!” which is rich coming from the man who falsely blamed George Soros, a Jewish billionaire, for funding a “caravan” across the border and praised white supremacists, who chanted “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, as “very fine people.”

This whole episode just stinks out loud, and Democrats who are not defending Rep. Omar should be ashamed of themselves.

Rep. Ilhan Omar

17 thoughts on “On Bigots and Bigotry

  1. "the time has come for the House to rebuke Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for things she didn’t actually say, and ideas she didn’t actually express." 

    She's getting Al Gored  — criticized for making statements that he didn't actually make ! They're repeating their past ratf***ing [email protected]

  2. Being critical of Israel for its apartheid policies, and our Congress' slavish devotion to that nation, is not synonymous with being Anti-Semitic!

    How many Republicans have said/written things that're blatantly anti-Islam/Muslim?  HOW ABOUT JUST TODAY?!?

    And as maha wrote, plenty of them, and their president*, have themselves uttered countless Anti-Semitic tropes – Btw, today, Cup o' Schmoe used the word "trope" so often, he was like a toddler who just learned a new word!

    The Congresswoman's point was that way too often, either you're severely criticised, or more seriously,  you're told you shouldn't serve on certain committee's, just because you were critical of the nation of Israel. And that members of Congress seem to have to be as loyal to Israel as to America!  And hence, if you're critical, then you must be Anti-Semitic (and somewhat Anti-American, too, one should logically assume.  But that's not the way the conservative "mind" works:  logically)!

    Yes, Israel is an important – if not the most important – ally of ours in the Middle East.  But that shouldn't mean we can't question or criticise that country. 

    This is all stupid.

    And I am really pissed at Pelosi and the other D's who didn't wholly support the Congresswoman who neither said, wrote, or did, anything wrong – except criticise her Congressional colleagues and Israel!

    Also too – I know I shouldn't be, but I'm struck by the absolute hypocrisy of the conservative Evangelical "Christians" who, while openly supporting Israel, in reality can't stand Jews, but need them to die to bring about their longed-for (bullshit) apocalypse.   NOW THAT'S ANTI-SEMITIC!  No?

    Also three – In a 21st Century America already full of lows, we have another one.  Conservatives add yet another step on our country's revolving down escalator.



    The VA Judge just gave Manafort only 47 months in prison – with time off for time served, yet!!! 

    Let's hope the sentence from the Judge in the DC court gives this scumbag the full 10 years she can!

    Here's the unfunny thing that the VA Judge said in sentencing:  He said that Manafort had led a "blameless life!" 


    Ask the Ukrainian people, and the victims of the dictatorial thugs Manafort helped around the world, exactly how "blameless" this evil MFer is?

    Proof yet again, that in our justice system, if you're rich and white, then you'll be all right!

  4. " Democrats who are not defending Rep. Omar should be ashamed of themselves"

    I agree. It's all about politics, standing up for Rep. Omar is about as dangerous politically as calling out the defense department and the private industries that fuel the run away corruption that defines our Military budget. In many ways the two are linked, taxpayers ignore the exorbitant defense department budgets because of people who look like Rep. Omar and the threat we have all been convinced that they pose to us and our "ally" Israel. Much of the faux outrage to Omar's statements are an over-reaction not so much to call her out but to keep the status quo when it comes to Israel. It's like Rep. Omar said; "it's all about the benjamins" and the money we give to Israel always makes it's way back to some fat cat defense contractor.

  5. She is young, smart, and politically capable.  If she can make monotheism work more power to the young person.  I lean more in my old feeble age to thinking that a feat of miracle status.  Even with the trinity fudge, we really need a god of American football.  That is if we want gods intervening all the time in all of the things ungodly we defer to them.  What god worth the title or even a god worth a capitol letter G would meddle in the tripe the average American would lay upon them?  

    I really thought this blog would duck this issue.  It takes an incredible person to try it, and I have no words for what it takes to address it so well.  




  6. Well I wanted to reply to Gulag, but the reply button don’t seem to work today?
    Gulag: “I am really pissed at Pelosi and the other D’s”
    I’ve been critical of Pelosi in the past for sure, but I think she handled this about as good as she could given the difficult politics of the whole “Israel can’t be spoken ill of” reality in our government. The bill was worded so it called out all forms of bigotry, Omar voted for it and Liz Cheney voted against it, so take from that what you will.

  7. Well, what else can we expect from Liz Cheney?

    She is, after all, her father’s son – or, rather, the son it never had.

  8. Israel can’t be spoken ill of because evangelicals believe that man can derail Gods plans, yet at the same time, that if you’re not on Team Israel then God shall smite you, Jesus shall weep, and there will be much gnashing of anointed teeth because some rapture fantasy can't happen..

    What we really need are more people with the balls to stand against evil regardless of who's doing it.

  9. “man can derail Gods plans”
    No wait according to most tea-tards man can’t destroy the earth (Climate Change Hoax) because the earth is gods creation? Sometimes it seem this whole God/Jesus thing wasn’t very well thought out?

  10. No sensible person being reasonable and honest, and that is the key — honesty, can say that what Omar said was anti-Semitic on par with the kinds of stuff Steve King or even Kevin McCarthy and other “conservatives” have uttered.  Many Jews in this country and elsewhere don't believe criticism of Israeli policies or Netanyahu, criticism that even Jews have made, in and of itself is anti-Semitic.  Anyone with any common sense knows criticism of Israeli policies or not being for them is not anti-Semitic.  Its just that the GOP and AIPAC have made it so, as a useful cudgel against the left, that only works if they fall for it.  In their rush to go after Omar, democrats have signaled yes, we want to continue to willfully fall for it, and let the GOP keep the cudgel because, we’re democrats and helping others beat on ourselves for nothing is what we do.

    This was a perfect opportunity for the democrats to inject some common sense and politically defang that cudgel somewhat if not for good, especially given the attention its gotten.  And yet, with the resolution they did the opposite and breathed new life into it.  Israel essentially has a blank check with respect to US foreign policy if anyone who opposes any Israeli policies are to be tarred as anti-Semitic.  

    I don't know if Pelosi did this but a better approach might have been to get the offended democratic reps in a room with Omar to hash this out, but then have them all make one statement for the press, let Omar express contrition for her inaccurate use of language, let Engel wax high dudgeon, etc.  And then don't do the resolution. 

    Meanwhile, joining the GOP in going after Omar without calling on them to condemn their bigots in WV for the anti-Muslim poster they put up attacking Omar, and as their bigot in chief has issued anti-Semitic slurs and continues to slur Native Americans every time he uses the "Pocahontas" slur against Warren without any consequence, is worse than just plain dumb.  But you have to wonder about the democrats own susceptibility to Islamophobia as they see it in an Islamic African woman. 

    At this rate the dems are going to run out of feet to blow off before the election.


  11. As a one time frequent commenter here, y'all know my opinion of this corrupt as hell relationship between the USA and Israel.  There should be no unconditional support.

  12. Pelosi deserves credit for avoiding another Democratic circular firing squad set up by the Republicans and instead got 23 Republicans opposing a condemnation of anti-Semitism.

  13. I agree, I know it’s all the rage to attack the democratic party for all things large and small, but I think Pelosi and the democratic leadership in the house handled this about as well as could be expected, given the touchy political and social reality both in government and our corporate media machine.

  14. Omar was criticicizing a government, not a religion. Bernie was one of the first to see that and call it. (I prefer Warren, but kudos to Bernie.)

    Schumer is co-sponsor of a bill that would make a boycot of Israel a crime. This may have been a factor in Pelosi and her spineless response. That doesn't make it OK, but it's a potential factor.

    This may be the secondary fault line that separates progressives from party hacks. (The primary fault line is big money in politics.) Somebody needs to dig up the statistics on Palistinians killed by Israli soldiers v Israelis killed by militant Palistinians. (Set a span of 20 years.) The numbers prove who the aggresor is.

  15. Look at the bright side.  Only 23 Reps. voted pro hate, which is much less than I expected.  I guess more properly they were anti anti-hate but my word processor does not like it very very much when I use the same word twice in a row.  

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