She is a newly minted Congresswoman, one of only two Muslim women elected to Congress in the 2018 midterm elections; she represents constituents in the 5th district in the State of Minnesota. Mrs. Omar is 37 years old as of this writing.
Like many “newly baked” Legislators – such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez representing New York 14th District and Rashida Tlaib representing Michigan’s 13th District – Ilhan has been very vocal about issues she (and her constituents) care about; she has been vocal about what she perceived to be inadequate, inappropriate or wrong. Barely a quarter in the job, still trying to figure out her place in Washington with the fire still burning inside of her, Mrs. Omar – just like the other newbies – will be unfiltered, unrefined. Translation: she will ruffle a few feathers but Mrs. Omar is nothing like Steve King.
It is expected and should be accepted there is a learning curve for everyone in life, much more so for those young individuals who have begun a journey to serve the country they love. Thus far, the reactions towards her comments have been overblown by both Democrats and Republicans. The reactions are so swift that Mrs. Pelosi announced a Legislation against Anti-Semitism to be voted on tomorrow, Wednesday March 6, 2019 as if Mrs. Omar’s comments…
“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” Omar tweeted in response to a tweet from the journalist Glenn Greenwald about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatening to take “action” against the freshman congresswoman over her criticism of Israel.
—Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 10, 2019
Subsequently, when asked to clarify what she meant, Omar in a separate tweet seemed to suggest a pro-Israel lobbying group — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) — is paying US politicians to support Israel.
—Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
It is without doubt that Mrs. Omar’s religion, origin and race have played major roles – probably the only ones – in the analysis of and the reactions to her comments.
Henry Olsen wrote an opinion in the Washington Post titled “Ilhan Omar is the Steve King of the left”. Mr. Olsen’s reactions about her comments are without doubt seen through the prism of her background. He was quick to judge Mrs. Omar but it took him over a decade to find Mr. King’s words unacceptable. It is difficult to even comprehend how Ilhan could be compared to a veteran like Steve King who has repeatedly over a decade put in display his racist inclination. Mrs. Omar is not only new to the process but her comments are nowhere close to what Mr. King has uttered over the years.
Mr. King has been in Washington since 2003; Mrs. Omar has been in Washington for barely two months. The comparison by Mr. Olsen hides a much deeper problem in our society; we are willing to give a pass to a White man who has repeatedly displayed racism for a long period of time but we are so very quick to condemn any minority. This is nothing new in the United States; it’s a treatment Blacks (and other minority groups) have been subjected to on a regular basis. It seems obvious White society for the most part has always itched for the opportunity, any chance to have something negative to use and dangle over minority’s head.
As such, it didn’t take long for everyone to condemn Mrs. Omar; the reference to Mr. King by Mr. Olsen about Mrs. Omar is very telling. I could not find anything written by Mr. Olsen about Mr. King’s supremacist views until January 2019, over 15 years of Mr. Olsen giving passes to Mr. King. But somehow, it seems appropriate to quickly condemn Mrs. Omar.
This piece here is not to voice support for or condemnation of Mrs. Omar’s comments but rather to point out the hypocrisy which seems to have permeated our society, embraced and accepted as norm vis-à-vis Blacks in particular, minority in general.
Irrespective of where one stands regarding Mrs. Omar’s comments, we cannot ignore the fact that the United States Government in particular, the American people in general have always supported Israel unconditionally, to a fault I would add. In an article published on January 2015 titled Flashing the Anti-Semitism Card, I outlined the very point Mrs. Omar made in her comments.
Through its existence, Israel has committed atrocities towards the Palestinians teetering on the brink of genocide, and yet the United States has shielded Israel from answering for war crimes against the Palestinians. At one point, during the summer of 2014, Israel bombarded a building where civilians were holed up during a fight between Israel and the Hamas fighters. The bombardment was deliberate and calculated; the United Nation (UN) which had crews on the ground then warned Israel 18 times about that particular location but Netanyahu gave the order to bomb the place anyway.
Instead of chastising Mrs. Omar for her comments, maybe it’s time the United States re-evaluates its relationship with Israel and holds its leaders accountable for crimes and atrocities such as those. It is rather obvious Mrs. Omar is very sensitive to those details we Americans simply shrug off.
The problem may not be Mrs. Omar. It seems our bias is much stronger than we ought to admit. It is well overdue we take a second look at how Israel has behaved on the world stage. Mrs. Omar’s comments may not be politically correct but she is no Steve King.
Whenever Israel is called for its wrongdoing, the Jews are always quick to scream Anti-Semitism. The United States in particular, the Western countries in general have been doing Israel’s bidding. It is not Anti-Semitic to speak the truth about Israel; it is not Anti-Semitic to call out those whose allegiance is more to Israel than it is to the United States; it is not Anti-Semitic to point out that Israel – like many other groups – has lobbied the Legislators. Whichever country one has allegiance to, it’s difficult to come to the conclusion that Mrs. Omar’s comments qualify as Anti-Semitic.
Ilhan Omar is no Steve King.Follow @mducheiney
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