Every time a Republican politician or candidate says something remotely offensive, Democrats are front and center demanding an immediate apology from the offending person and calling for official condemnations from party leaders at the highest levels.
And if that Republican is a member of the U.S. House, a resolution must be passed condemning that person by name.
If the apologies, condemnations, and resolutions don’t go far enough or come soon enough – or at all – Democrats will point to it all as evidence the Republican party condones the remarks. They’ll also say it’s just par for the course for the so-called GOP “party of hate.”
With those standards in mind, it’s been fascinating to watch the debate play out within the Democratic party over the issue of formally condemning via a House resolution recent remarks made by first-term Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (MN) that were widely viewed as anti-Semitic.
Omar told a crowd of supporters in late February that she wanted “to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Just a couple of weeks prior to that, she wrote two different tweets insinuating that Jewish Americans were buying off politicians. These are considered anti-Semitic tropes, and her apology for the latter was not for what she said — it was for how people took it.
House Democratic leaders publicly rebuked Omar for her comments about Jewish Americans buying off elected officials, but there was no resolution on it. And they have struggled to come up with an appropriate response in the aftermath of her use of the offensive dual loyalty trope.
Republicans have noticed, and in turn are crying foul.
Flashback to early January. In an interview with the New York Times, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
The reaction was swift. Republicans condemned the comments. Within days, the Democratic-controlled House passed a unanimous resolution rebuking King by name. Republicans stripped King of all his committee assignments.
The message was clear: The normalization of white nationalism/supremacy by a member of the House would not be allowed in Congress.
So why can’t House Democrats do the same to Rep. Omar?
They spent over a week engaging in infighting over how best to handle what she said about “allegiance to a foreign country.” These are comments for which, to remind people, she did not apologize.
What they came up with was a toothless resolution that condemned all forms of hate, and which didn’t mention Rep. Omar by name.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a reporter last week she believed that Omar, who is 37 years-old, did not “understood the full weight of the words” and that “her words were not based on any anti-Semitic attitude.” Really?
So a freshman representative who landed a coveted spot on the sensitive House Foreign Affairs Committee “didn’t understand” that her inflammatory words would be interpreted as anti-Semitic?
She’s still on this committee why again?
By not condemning Rep. Omar by name in their “anti-hate” resolution, and by steadfastly refusing to remove her from her committee assignments, Democrats are saying it’s more important for Omar to feel “welcomed and included.” They’re saying the valid concerns Democratic Jewish voters have for their safety and security, and for the disturbing direction the Democratic party is taking, are secondary.
It was not just necessary for Democrats to rebuke Omar in order to show they’d be consistent in the standards they hold Republicans to. It was imperative they do so send a strong message – one all Republicans would have supported – that dangerous tropes against Jewish people have no place in civilized society and they especially should not come from any Member of Congress.
This could have had a ripple effect in places like Durham where the Democratic party-controlled City Council has been under fire for the last year over taking positions that align with groups that are openly hostile to the Jewish community.
Rep. Omar has been emboldened by the House Democratic leadership’s failure to condemn her explicitly via a resolution, and there’s little doubt she – and others in Congress like Rep. Tlaib (MI) and Ocasio-Cortez (NY) — will test them again on this issue in the near future. The only question is in regards to how Democrats will respond the next time.
If it’s anything like what they’ve said and done so far, don’t expect much — which should not be just a concern for Jewish voters, but for everyone.
Stacey Matthews is a veteran blogger who has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to Red State and Legal Insurrection.