Why did the Democrats ever back Ilhan Omar?

She’s gone, but we must ask why the party fought so hard to keep mad-left Squad’s poster girl


WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 11: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks during a town hall hosted by the NAACP on September 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The congresswomen talked about their backgrounds and how they were disruptors who “challenged conventional wisdom and assumptions” about how to get elected, among other topics. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

February 09, 2023 13:40

How will America’s foreign policy function without the expertise and wisdom of Ilhan Omar? Last week, the Republicans dismissed Omar, the Somali-born Minnesota congressional representative and adornment of the Democrats’ mad-left “Squad”, from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

It’s worth asking why the Democrats nominated Omar to a House Committee in the first place, and why they fought so hard to keep her there.

“Israel has hypnotised the world,” Omar tweeted in 2012, “may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

She later said that she wasn’t aware that imputing hypnotic powers of evil to Israel might be offensive, then apologised for “unknowingly” using an “antisemitic trope”.

Her sensitivity heightened, in February 2019, Omar alleged that American support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins”.

When Democratic leaders and Jewish organisations condemned her, she repeated the apology routine and again pleaded ignorance of the “painful history of antisemitic tropes”. She then said that she wanted to “talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

Her claim that Jews buy the allegiance of American politicians aroused another round of Democratic condemnation. In case anyone doubted that she really did think this way, she added that she “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”.

On 7 March 2019, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives took the unusual step of issuing a motion of censure.

The Democrats watered it down from a condemnation of Omar’s anti-Jewish statements to a condemnation of all forms of bigotry. But this was before saying “All Lives Matter” became a racist career-ender.

Then in June 2021, Omar equated alleged American and Israeli “atrocities” with the genuine atrocities committed by Hamas and the Taliban. More than a dozen Jewish Democrats in the House publicly called Omar’s statement “as offensive as it is misguided”.

They said that the “false equivalencies” in equating the US and Israel with “contemptible organisations that engage in terrorism” suggested “deep-seated prejudice”, and asked Omar to “clarify her words”.

Omar replied that this criticism was “Islamophobic” and “offensive”, as well as “harassment and silencing”.

Her spokesman Jeremy Slevin called the Jewish Democrats, all of them impeccable liberals, “far right”. Cory Bush, newly elected to the Democrats’ far-left “Squad” but already fluent in its passive-aggressive race-baiting, accused his colleagues of “anti-Blackness and Islamophobia”. The Republicans are now in control of the House.

The new House Leader, Kevin McCarthy, has long condemned Omar as an antisemite, while remaining constructively blind to the failings of his own party’s lunatic fringe.

True, in January 2019, when McCarthy was House Minority Leader, he removed the Iowa congressman Steve King from three House committees after King had asked if the term “white supremacist” was offensive.

In November 2021, the Democrat-controlled House formally censured the Arizona Republican Paul Gosar for posting an anime video that showed Gosar slashing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s neck with a sword and then waving it at Joe Biden.

McCarthy refused to condemn Gosar, and called on Republicans to vote against the resolution. Only two Republicans, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, had the decency to break ranks and vote with the Democrats.

McCarthy also defended Marjorie Taylor Greene when the Democrats tried to remove her from her committee appointments after it emerged that she once claimed that the Rothschilds controlled the weather with “Jewish space lasers”.

Perhaps it is unsurprising that 22 of the 24 Jewish Democrats in the House supported Omar when the Republicans returned the favour. Unsurprising, but appalling.

An optimist would note that, as the parties exchange power, they are taking turns at pruning the other side’s worst elements from positions of authority.

This affirms a reductive kind of centrism which ensures that Congress remains as jammed as ever, and incapable of passing laws, which is just as the voters prefer it.

A pessimist would note that both parties are subordinating truth and decency to party loyalty. Though this is hardly an innovation, it might be the point of party politics.

Subordinating party strategy to the dim and bigoted fringe is another matter. Both parties are doing it. They affect outrage on behalf of the Jews when it suits, then turn a blind eye to the offensive behaviour of their own side, and even rally around the offender.

The Republicans dumped Omar from the Foreign Relations committee, but restored mad Marjorie Taylor Greene to the Homeland Security committee. This was terrible hypocrisy, but at least Congress had an expert on hand when the Chinese spy balloon turned up. At times like this, you need a Jewish space laser.

February 09, 2023 13:40

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