Wednesday, March 06, 2019


Sometimes Nike's ad slogan, "Just Do It," works.  Reprising her earlier role as an anti-Semite,  Ilhan Omar appeared last Wednesday on a panel with Representative Rashida Tlaib. At the end of a mostly innocuous statement, Omar commented "So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country."

Six-plus days have passed, Omar has been condemned by members of the Jewish community and supporters of Israel, defended by supporters, and only now, as Politico reports

A vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in response to controversial comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar is set to slip past Wednesday amid intensifying pressure from the left both inside and outside the House Democratic Caucus.

An array of progressive groups declared their support for Omar, while both the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus — two of the most important factions among House Democrats — wanted more time to review the situation, lawmakers and aides said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a closed-door meeting Tuesday that the vote would likely happen Thursday. They also said a draft resolution would be updated to include additional language rejecting anti-Muslim bias, although some Democratic sources believe that an entirely new document might be crafted.

What is clear, however, is that the furor over Omar's remarks — the second time in two months the Minnesota Democrat has made comments that were condemned by her own colleagues as anti-Semitic — is threatening to overshadow everything else happening in the House. House Democrats are set to pass a major anti-corruption package that deals with ethics and campaign finance reform initiatives and voting rights, but much of the attention is on Omar and how party leaders respond to her comments.

A more important issue is in danger of being overshadowed by the furor over anti-Semitism, as reflected by

"We're still discussing it," Hoyer said on Tuesday. "The sentiment is that it ought to be broad-based. What we're against is hate, prejudice, bigotry, white supremacy, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism."

"Yes, we're strongly against anti-Semitism, but we're strongly against prejudice directed at any group," Hoyer added.

An old joke, updated for the current situation: Stop the presses- and social media! Democrats oppose prejudice!

Hoyer- himself Jewish and presumably taking his cues from Speaker Pelosi- has it wrong.

The caucus had a chance to do the right thing. On Monday, Speaker Pelosi received a letter written by House Foreign Affairs chairperson Elliot Engel, with eleven Jewish and/or Zionist organizations as signatories, arguing

We need to ensure that anti-Semitism has no place within the venerable House Foreign Affairs Committee. We therefore respectfully request that Congresswoman Omar be removed, immediately, from the sensitive work of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

(Engel has now reversed himself; evidently, he got the message- video, below.)

Four days after Republican Steve King's remark supporting white nationalism was published, Minority Leader McCarthy stripped the Iowan of his two committee assignments, on Judiciary and Agriculture.

Yet 6-7 days after Democrat Omar made her comment decrying alleged dual allegiance, House leadership has been unable or unwilling either to remove Omar from the Foreign Relations Committee or to denounce anti-Semitism.

In the coming days, Pelosi and her caucus will do something. The optimum decision would be to remove her from a committee which has jurisdiction over foreign affairs, including in the Middle East, which includes the Jewish state and American ally, Israel.

Many people- perhaps your neighbor and undoubtedly some US representatives- have one or another bias, whether against Jews, Muslims, atheists, blacks, or another group. But Omar expressed hers publicly, and they bear on her work on the committee.

It is not absolutely necessary to do that, however. The House can simply pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and move on.

As Hoyer's remark indicates, however, leadership- cowed by misguided interest groups in the Democratic caucus- probably won't take even that minimal action.  It won't do it even though while anti-Semitism and anti-Islamic sentiments are bad, so is prejudice against Hindus (where are you, Tulsi Gabbard?) and all other religious groups, as well the non-religious.

Additionally, Omar is not accused of making anti-Muslim remarks. She stands accused, justifiably, of making one or more anti-Jewish statement. Were a US Represntative- particularly a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee- to make an anti-Muslim remark, the burden of proof would be on the individual's  supporters to demonstrate why he/she should not be penalized.

Perhaps Pelosi sees strategic value in making Republicans vote against anti-Islamic bias, given that much of the GOP base and President Trump are not partial to Muslims. However, that is not her primary motive in hesitating (and probably avoiding) to do the right thing.

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