Sunday, April 14, 2019

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Ilhan?

These two seem to have a disagreement:
It does appear that David Frum has remained a registered Republican. However, he has barely been in position to influence the Republican Party since he was effectively thrown out of the American Enterprise Institute in 2010, and probably not at all since he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

In the article to which Frum linked in his tweet, he addressed the most recent controversy surrounding Democrat Ilhan Omar, in which the Minnesota congresswoman at a meeting of the Council of American-Islamic Affairs in March indelicately stated  “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

Frum notes that two Democratic presidential candidates already "have offered full-throated endorsements" with other Democrats having defended her.  He reasons

Having promised not to “let him drive us apart” from Omar, Democrats are now stuck with responsibility for the reckless things the representative from Minnesota says, not only about Jews, but about other issues, too. Omar has already served notice that she does not intend to behave more circumspectly in the future. In a Friday-night interview, Stephen Colbert asked Omar whether she would heed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s advice to back-bench it for a while. Omar answered, “I think Nancy knows this very well. Women have been told to go slow and not be seen and not be heard for many years. She wouldn’t have made it to where she is if she did. And it’s certainly the case for minority women … We are not there to be quiet. We are not there to be invisible. We are there to follow the lead of people like Congressman John Lewis and make good trouble.”

Well, this is trouble, and not only because John Lewis suffered a skull fracture when clubbed by an Alabama State Trooper in de facto enforcement of de jure segregation.  Some 54 years later, Representative Omar, her family, and her staff  (thankfully) are being given increased security by Capitol Police in response to a death threat from a civilian, who already has been apprehended.

It's a problem also because, as Frum wrote

The Democrats are on notice. More remarks will be coming...

After Trump’s tweeted attack, Omar will become even more internally uncriticizable and unmanageable, without becoming any more careful or responsible. Indeed, the speech by Omar that provided Trump with the sound bite he exploited—“some people did something”—itself exemplifies her carelessness and irresponsibility.

CAIR was founded in 1994, which was seven years before 2001, a not insignificant distinction in light of the statement by the freshman Democrat. Nonetheless, her Democratic defenders rightly believe that the comment must be considered in context, in which it appears less callous than the GOP is making it out to be. However, the full context impels also the recognition that

Against Omar’s propensity to provoke, the Democratic Party seems institutionally almost defenseless. Pelosi was thwarted when she attempted to pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitic expressions by House members. Instead, the House substituted more muddled language in which Jews appeared in a laundry list condemning all expressions of intolerance against “African-Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants and others.”

And then at the Republican-Jewish Coalition convention, President Trump told the assembled American Jews that Benjamin Netanyahu is "your prime minister" and a Democratic victory in 2020 "would cripple our country and very well could leave Israel out there all by yourselves." Thus having accused Jews of dual loyalties, Trump could have been censored by the House of Representatives for anti-Semitic remarks had House Democrats not taken a pass on justifiably accusing Omar of a similar expression of hate.

And now, as Frum realizes, the Democratic Party is stuck.  Representative Omar, far more intelligent than careful, got the message when her Party refused to address her statement on its own (lack of) merit.  Therefore

It cannot be pleasant for Omar’s colleagues to have to wonder and worry what that next remark will be—knowing that Donald Trump and his Twitter feed will be waiting to blame all Democrats for the provocations of one. But by not putting themselves on record about Omar when they could, Democrats now find themselves bound to her for the duration. This problem will get worse, and its political consequences will become ever more costly for Democrats who want to win national elections and govern the country.

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