The political discourse of the past two days has been completely overwhelmed by a bad faith smear campaign by right-wing Islamophobes and their liberal enablers against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who provoked a wildly overblown controversy when she correctly criticized the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for using their money to purchase influence in Washington D.C.
Her admittedly very poor choice of words (“all about the Benjamins”), a clear reference to both a commonly used phrase and a popular rap song by artist P. Diddy of the same name, was labeled as anti-Semitic by a ravenous and enormously hypocritical right-wing media machine that spends all the rest of its time dog-whistling to white supremacists.
Though Omar apologized and promised to educate herself more on anti-Semitic tropes, she refused to back down on her central point: that we need to put an end to the funneling of millions of dollars into our politics by a shadowy lobby funded by billionaires in support of a far-right pseudo-apartheid government that the UN Human Rights chief says has “caged Palestinians in a toxic slum from birth to death.”
Today, even President Trump weighed in on the absurd, manufactured outcry from unashamed racists and those beholden to the pro-Israel lobby and demanded that Omar resign from Congress over her remarks — a stunning act of political hypocrisy from the most powerful promoter of anti-Semitism in the United States.
Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton, who was at the forefront of the liberal finger-wagging and tut-tutting at Omar for her remarks, turned right around and blasted our white supremacist president for his disgusting hypocrisy.
Mr. President, Congresswoman @IlhanMN apologized for using an anti-Semitic trope & demonstrated leadership. When have you ever apologized for your embrace of white nationalism & your exploitation & amplification of anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, racist, xenophobic, anti-LGBTQ hate? https://t.co/MAsdHkZbdg
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) February 12, 2019
She wasn’t the only one to drop the hammer on the man who said there were fine people on “both sides” of the Charlottesville hate rally where neo-Nazi James Fields murdered activist Heather Heyer and wounded dozens of others in a 2017 terrorist attack, personally promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that inspired the neo-Nazi terrorist who murdered eight Jews in a 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and said nothing when Republican Representative Steve King (R-IA) openly defended white supremacy and met with a far-right Austrian political party with ties to the Nazi party.
Unlike this President, Rep. @IlhanMN demonstrated a capacity to acknowledge pain & apologize, use the opportunity to learn abt history of antisemitism,+grow from it while clarifying her stance.
I’m also inspired by Jewish leadership who brought her in, not push her out, to heal. https://t.co/ONRegDJK2S
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 12, 2019
Trump is now demanding Ilhan Omar resign, pretending to be outraged.
— Charles Johnson (@Green_Footballs) February 12, 2019
Trump NEVER COMMENTED on Steve King embracing white nationalism.
Trump NEVER APOLOGIZED for saying participants in a violent white supremacist march were "very fine people."
Now calls on Omar to resign after her apology for a tweet. https://t.co/T7bZTc2Zlx
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) February 12, 2019
This is what the point of the attack on Omar was. It wasn’t an opportunity for a learning moment, it started with Republicans & was always going to end with them demanding the Black Muslim congresswoman with criticism of FP & lobbying resign. Liberals played their part so well. https://t.co/5vNVc3OtVO
— abk (@Rrrrnessa) February 12, 2019
Considering that Trump and the right-wing have spent the past three years playing footsie with Nazis and whitewashing the horrifying rise in white supremacist violence, it is deeply disappoint to see so many liberals joining with them to denounce Rep. Ilhan Omar for her very poorly phrased statements pointing out that a political action committee, whose self-defined purpose is to purchase political influence, might hold too much sway in Washington.
Indeed, it speaks to how right she was that the majority of the liberal political establishment decided to throw her under the bus and validate the racist and Islamophobic motivations behind the right-wing smear campaign.
As Democrats, we must stand firm against bigotry and hatred of all kinds, but we must fight equally hard to rid our ranks of corrosive foreign political influence no matter the source, be it from Russia, Saudi Arabia, or Israel.
For far too long has the liberal political establishment turned a blind eye to the enormous cruelty and murderous excesses that the Israeli regime has inflicted on the Palestinian people, and if we value both the integrity of our democracy and our ostensible commitment to protecting human rights we must demand that our politicians grow a backbone, hold the President and his racist cronies accountable, and take substantial action to combat the pernicious effects of dark money in our politics.