Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Another Unapologetic Apology

Under pressure from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic members of the House of Representatives, Ilhan Omar has"apologized."

A genuine apology is something like "I'm sorry for what I've (written/said/tweeted/done)," preferably including "because I was wrong," and definitely omitting "but of course I was right." This was not oa horse of a different color; it wasn't even a mammal.

Omar began by acknowledging anti-semitism is "real," not unlike acknowledging the existnce of, say, climate, Nepal, or planet Earth itself. We know her intention is not to "offend," but instead to express her opinion, however repulsive.  (And there is no such thing as "Jewish Americans" because "Jewish" is not a nationality.)

"Just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity" sounds like she is trying to rationalize her remarks but, more generously, is a garbled set of 15 words. No one is apologizing- expressing regret at one's own words or action- by announcing she is apologizing. The apology lies in actually expressing error rather than in characterizing one's statement.

She writes "at the same time" to emphasize the message that follows: "I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry." The tell is that this is not what she had said. When Greenwald defended Omar and Tlaib for their criticism of Israel and slammed Congress for encouraging suppression of the BDS movement, Omar had responded  "It's all about the Benjamins baby 🎶."

But AIPAC does not donate money to political campaigns and though facts may be inconvenient, they still are facts.

Equating AIPAC with the NRA and the fossil fuel industry- two groups of which Omar is (rightly) critical- and not of immigrant rights or other groups she favors, she makes it clear that she is hostile to the the pro-Israel group. That is her right, but including it in an apology alone renders the so-called apology meaningless.

In response, Representative Joe Kennedy III- who evidently will not be spotted entering a MENSA meeting- tweeted "Glad to see this. With anti-semitism on the rise at home and abroad, we must unequivocally reject tropes, stereotypes or other language deeply hurtful to the Jewish community -- there's no place for it."

One can only hope that Kennedy other elected officials and media figures who believe that Ilhan Omar has apologized are merely declaring victory in an attempt to move on. If instead they believe that a politician demanding "people hear me when others attack me" and that AIPAC is the moral equivalent of the murder-approving, likely Russia-funded National Rifle Association is offering a mea culpa, they don't realize when they've been played.

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