Well, it didn’t take long, but the Democrats are back to cannibalizing themselves. The focal point this time is the various statements of Somalia-born Michigan Representative Ilhan Omar.
Omar has been openly critical of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), which hardly makes her unique. Just like people have criticized the lobbying power of the oil and gas lobby or the NRA, criticizing AIPAC hardly makes a person anti-semitic.
But Omar has used language which has certainly been indelicate. People have accused her of using “antisemitic tropes.”
What got Omar intro trouble was tweeting that it was “all bout the Benjamins, baby” and then responding “AIPAC” when asked what it meant.
Now, if you’re like me, the first thing you might be asking yourself is, “what’s a trope?” Well, according to Wikipedia, a trope is “the use of figurative language, via word, phrase or an image, for artistic effect such as using a figure of speech.”
Okay, so what’s an “antisemitic trope?” Again, returning to Wikipedia, it’s “unfounded rumors or false allegations which are defamatory towards Judaism as a religion, or defamatory towards Jews as an ethnic or religious group.” As examples of Anti-semitic tropes Wikipedia cites
- accusations of guilt for the death of Jesus;
- accusations of host desecration, accusations of ritual murder and blood libel;
- accusations of plotting to control the world;
- accusations of usury and profiteering, accusations of dual loyalty
- accusations of cowardice and lack of patriotism;
- accusations of controlling the media, and;
- accusations of controlling the world financial system.
Those are some pretty serious accusations.
Clearly, criticizing the outsized influence of AIPAC is not in that category.
And yet, just the other day there was an opinion piece by Michael A. Cohen (not to be confused with the other Michael Cohen) complaining about Omar’s “stunning lack of introspection.”
Cohen (whose commentary I normally really appreciated) complained that Omar “activated a long-standing anti-Jewish stereotype: that Diaspora Jews use money to exercise influence and political power.”
No, I don’t think that’s what she did. She complained about the sway of a particular lobbying group, one that has the world “Israel” in its official title.
Lest we forget, Omar herself has been the target of anti-Muslim smears, such as a poster that associated Omar with the 9/11 hijackings.
The Democrats broadened their resolution that they had planned to vote on to include references to “anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry.”
Fine. Let’s keep it there.
What should happen now is that Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership team take Rep. Omar aside and remind her that (as one of two Muslims in the House) she needs to be very careful not only of what she expresses, but also of how she expresses it.
And then maybe the Democrats can stop cannibalizing themselves.