We knew it was coming.
Republicans who have routinely been on the receiving end of Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (NY) “woman of color” card-playing in response to criticisms leveled at her knew it was only a matter of time before she played it against one of her own.
As it happens, she played it against the woman charged with keeping together the various factions of Democrats in the U.S. House: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA).
Pelosi had been mildly critical of the Freshman Four of Ocasio-Cortez, Reps. Ilhan Omar (MN), Rashida Tlaib (MI), and Ayanna Pressley (MA) for weeks when asked in interviews about their defiance of House leadership on certain legislative priorities, including on a funding bill for humanitarian aid for the southern border crisis.
The four voted “no” on the bill in spite of several weeks of condemning conditions at border detention centers.
Pelosi also took issue with Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti, who compared moderate Democrats – including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who are allies of Pelosi’s – to southern segregationists. The freshman Congresswoman did not condemn her chief of staff’s incendiary remarks, which added to the level of frustration the House Speaker felt towards the unofficial leader of the four women known as “The Squad.”
Ocasio-Cortez had been mostly quiet in response to Pelosi’s criticisms of “The Squad” until last week, when she told a national newspaper that Pelosi’s “persistent singling out… it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful… the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”
It was the shot heard round the world. The “woman of color” (race) card had officially been played against the House Speaker, a woman who has unquestionably spent decades trying to get people of color – men and women – elected to Congress.
Hour later, Ocasio-Cortez appeared to walk back her comments, telling a reporter “No, no, absolutely not, absolutely not” in response to a question about whether or not she felt Pelosi had any racist tendencies.
But the gauntlet had been thrown, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus pushed back on Ocasio-Cortez and her legislative team by throwing the race card back at them. Because not only had she insulted the House Speaker, but Ocasio-Cortez’s “Justice Democrats” group are also targeting several members of the Congressional Black Caucus at the ballot box because they find the members insufficiently left-wing.
“It just seems strange that the social Democrats seem to be targeting members of the Congressional Black Caucus, individuals who have stood and fought to make sure that African Americans are included and part of this process,” Rep. Gregory Meeks (NY) told an online news outlet.
“I don’t know what that agenda is, but if they want to come after members of the Black Caucus, it’s two ways,” Meeks continued.
Translation: Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, if you want to play the race card, let me show you how it’s done.
Because of this very public, very embarrassing war of words between elected officials who are supposed to be allies, liberals who previously would not think twice about playing the race card against Republican critics all of a sudden began to understand how leveling it at people who didn’t deserve it was unfair, and cheapened the definition of the word “racism.”
Columnist Maureen Dowd, who like other Democrats was notorious for playing the race card with wild abandon against Republicans during the eight years of President Obama, condemned Ocasio-Cortez’s doing so against Pelosi.
“The progressives act as though anyone who dares disagree with them is bad. Not wrong, but bad, guilty of some human failing, some impurity that is a moral evil that justifies their venom,” she wrote in a recent column.
Welcome to a Republican’s world, Ms. Dowd.
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.