Thursday, October 19, 2023

Say Her Name

You're halfway there, Senator.

He's halfway there, and a former Republican (still fairly conservative), anti-Trump and anti-Republican Party ex-congressman knows where he should go and why.

It may happen. There were very few Democrats who uttered the term "defund the police," which literally means "end all funding of all police." (That may not be what was meant but is the literal definition of the phrase.)  And there were only two prominent Democrats- U.S. Representatives Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib- who advocated actual defunding of the police. Yet, Republicans and media conservatives hanged the tag like an albatross around the neck of Democrats. defunding the police.

And now they are the most virulent of opponents in Congress of the State of Israel. Approximately 24 hours after the slaughter of Israelis by Hamas began, Missouri's Bush stated "As part of achieving a  just and lasting peace, we must do our part to stop this violence and trauma by ending Us government support for Israeli military occupation and apartheid." This would be awful policy to enunciate at any time. Spoken as it was, it was tasteless, vile, and awful.

Tlaib has not limited herself to reprehensible words. The day after the invasion, she called for ceasing aid to Israel and proposed :lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance." She claimed to " grieve the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today, and every day," somehow without mentioning anything about an invasion, terrorism, or Hamas. Her sincerity was as empty as a Donald Trump promise.

Now, she has taken her bigotry and narrow-mindedness a step further.  On Wednesday, she reacted hysterically to the war initiated by the the Gazan butchers, just as ordinary Americans react hysterically in moments of extreme irrationality.

In response, hundreds of demonstrators organized by the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace entered (as they are legally entitled to do) the Capitol, then broke the law by chanting slogans of opposition to Israel. Once some sat down, peaceful arrests ensued.

Thus, despite howls of bitterness from conservatives on Twitter, this bore little resemblance to the events of January 6, 2021. The former were not filled with violent rage, intent on trashing the building,, killing the Republican Vice President or Democratic Speaker of the House, attacking anyone in their way including law enforcement officers, and creating general mayhem.

Nonetheless, they stormed and (temporarily) protested in a building in violation of federal law, and did so upon invitation of a member of the body which meets there. 

This is a member whose actions have followed words, both on Wednesday and in the past, which are offensive and contrary to fact and reason.  Additionally, as Joe Walsh points out, they encourage Republicans to tag Democrats with the charge that they are anti-Semitic and/or pander to the most ridiculous members of their coalition.

The backlash may come soon or, as with backlash against the perception that Democrats were pushing "defund the police," at a later date- perhaps 10-12 months from now, in time for the elections of November, 2024,

There are many Democrats who proclaimed- or at least proclaimed in the first few days after the war began- their support for Israel in bland and uncontroversial fashion. There are few, such as John Fetterman, who are willing to defend Israel when it is being unfairly criticized by not only Tlaib, but by others whose opposition to Israel is couched in much more diplomatic language.

There are even fewer who are not intimidated by their Democratic colleagues who view the ongoing Middle East crisis as a conflict between the the always evil Israelis, and the others, whose actions and interests are perceived as always benign. In the internal politics of his Party, bluntly asserting "the tragedy at the Gaza hospital was not caused by Israel," is, disturbingly bold and uncommon. 

Fetterman was the first Senate Democrat to call for the resignation of New Jersey senator Bob Menendez. If he were publicly to criticize- not call for the resignation or even censoring (let's not be greedy or unrealistic)- of Rashida Tlaib, he would be serving two purposes. He'd be adding to a reputation of someone willing to call out fellow politicians while forcefully supporting Israel and helping establish the Democratic Party where it once was, and should be- as an opponent of ethnic bigotry.

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