Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib (MI), Ilhan Omar (MN), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) have much in common.
They’re first-term Congresswomen. They’re progressives. They’re outspoken. They’re women of color.
They’re also notorious for using the “progressive woman of color” card as a shield to insulate themselves from criticism and to shut down debate.
In response to the New York Post’s front page last Thursday that blasted Omar’s “some people did something” remarks about 9/11, Ocasio-Cortez told reporters, “We are getting to the level where this is an incitement of violence against progressive women of color.”
Tlaib took the same approach in her response. “They do this all the time to us, especially women of color. They do that. They take our words out of context because they are afraid because we speak truth, we speak truth to power.” She went on to say that “this is just a pure racist act.”
Forget the fact that had any other politician referred to 9/11 in such a casual, no-big-deal kind of way in the context Omar did, they also would have been called out. No matter their color, no matter their gender.
Ocasio-Cortez has referenced her gender and color often during her young political career. Tlaib and Omar reference theirs frequently as well. They frequently reference each other’s gender and color when coming to the defense of their colleagues. It’s as if they believe people need to be reminded periodically of their physical characteristics, as if they believe that – absent those characteristics, they’d be given a pass (they wouldn’t).
When video surfaced of Tlaib saying in early January that “we’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherf—–!”, there was pushback. Members of her own party criticized the remarks, stating in so many words that it was unbecoming of a Member of Congress to use that language.
In response, both Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez – who has faced similar criticism – made skin color references, as if neither of them would have been criticized for what they said had they been white men (here’s the kicker: they would have).
Ocasio-Cortez, who frequently paints herself as a selfless defender of the less fortunate, tweeted out the following response to a report that Fox News had reported on her often in a six-week time frame: “Too bad for them, cause we don’t flinch.”
In Omar’s controversial speech, she told her CAIR audience they needed to “raise hell, make people uncomfortable.” During this same speech, she accused President Trump of knowingly inciting violence against members of the Muslim community.
Omar told Stephen Colbert last week that “[Certain identities are] being used as political football — immigrants, refugees, women of color, people of color, minorities, Muslims. I happen to embody all of those identities, so it’s easy for this to be kind of self-explanatory.”
What’s “self-explanatory” here is that this trio of Congresswomen want to have it both ways. They want to be able to call their political opposition terrorists and child killers for supporting the NRA, Nazis and white supremacists for supporting or defending Trump. At the same time, they want their woman of color card to protect them from criticism when their inflammatory rhetoric gets turned around on them.
In a nutshell, these are the same women who tell you they “don’t flinch” and that they will “raise hell” but then turn around and play the woman of color card to try and shut their opposition down for raising hell and not flinching.
If these women want to continue to utilize this tiresome tactic, that’s their right. But in doing so they have – in effect – surrendered their “fierce feminist” card. Because there is nothing fierce nor feminist about a woman holding one side to debate standards to which she won’t hold herself.
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.