March 22, 2023

House Republicans just embarrassingly fell into their own trap in vote on anti-hate bill

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Somehow, the trite and absurd saga of the right-wing’s collective freakout over Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)’s criticism of the Israel lobby has extended into a second week, coming to a head on Thursday as a condemnation bill heads to the House floor.

Pressured into a corner by their AIPAC-backed members and the incessant mewling of finger-wagging conservative pundits, Democratic leadership felt obligated to make some kind of performative gesture reiterating their opposition to anti-Semitism, which had only been substantively questioned by bad-faith right-wingers in the first place.

When the progressive caucus of House Democrats erupted in fury over the singling out of Ilhan Omar just days after she had been accused by West Virginia Republicans of supporting terrorism and of being involved in the 9/11 terror attacks, House leadership then decided to backtrack and rewrote the bill to be a unilateral condemnation of all kinds of hate, including Islamophobia and homophobia — and suddenly, House Republicans had serious problems with it.

With hatred against minorities being the animating force of the modern Republican Party, a significant number of Republican Representatives suddenly found themselves unwilling to condemn themselves — which resulted in the very telling sight of 26 Republicans voting against condemning anti-Semitism and hate of all kinds, including House GOP conference chair Liz Cheney, truly her father’s daughter.

Ostensibly, they are complaining that they wanted a specific bill against anti-Semitism so that they could single out Ilhan Omar while studiously ignoring their colleague Steve King’s (R-IA) long history of supporting white supremacy — but if that was the case, why wouldn’t they just vote for this one anyway?

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What harm would it do to unilaterally oppose all forms of hate, including anti-Semitism… unless one was deeply invested in promoting hatred against immigrants, people of color, the LGBT community and Muslims?

Perhaps we should ask Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who promoted anti-Semitic conspiracies against billionaire George Soros and accused him of betraying his fellow Jews during the Holocaust (Soros was barely a teenager at the time) on FOX News.

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Or perhaps we should ask Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who was denounced as a racist by his own family and has been harshly criticized for associating with anti-Muslim hate groups.

Or Chris Collins (R-NY), who ran a disgustingly racist attack ad of his opponent speaking Korean while flashing pictures of Kim Jong-un in the background:

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This entire affair has been a preposterous waste of time and energy by all those involved and they should be ashamed of themselves, except for Ilhan Omar, who should be commended for having the courage to speak up against the humanitarian atrocities committed by the right-wing extremist regime in Israel and the disturbing sway their lobby holds in Washington knowing it would immediately paint a target on her back, even though she definitely should have been more careful with her words and must be more aware of the connotations of certain phrases in the future.

No foreign lobby should be able to exert control over our politicians, be it Russian or Israeli or Namibian, and neither should we tolerate the obvious bad-faith efforts by blatant Islamophobes and Trump-supporting racists to weaponize anti-Semitism in order to shield a US taxpayer-supported pseudo-apartheid regime from criticism over the collective punishment and routine crimes against humanity committed against the Palestinian people.

But it’s very telling that given an open-and-shut opportunity to do what one Republican disparaged as “kindergarten lessons,” a swath of conservatives were suddenly unable to practice what they purportedly preach and outed themselves as unrepentant bigots for the whole country to see.

Colin Taylor

Managing Editor

Colin Taylor is the managing editor of the Washington Press. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice, equality, and universal health care in America.

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