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huffpost – Democrats re-fuel GOP talking points on Ilhan Omar

Twelve House Democrats sparked a potentially costly intra-party feud on Wednesday by publicly criticizing their colleague, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), A longtime right-wing target, in a statement that amplified points of Republicans’ discussion of the Democratic Party and distorted Omar’s views. .

In a hearing on Monday, Omar asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken where he believes victims of human rights abuses around the world can seek justice given the Biden administration’s opposition to the International Criminal Court and the failure of national courts to investigate alleged war crimes. She specifically cited two contexts in which she said American partners and their opponents should be investigated: the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and the war in Afghanistan.

“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity,” Omar then tweeted, condemning the atrocities committed by militant groups – Hamas and the Taliban – as well as by Washington and the US-backed Israeli and Afghan governments.

This logic guides most international human rights groups and, to some extent, the United States’ own government, which, under Democratic and Republican presidents, recognized that American forces and their allies violated standards. relating to rights.

In their Wednesday night statement, Reps Brad Schneider (Illinois), Jerry Nadler (NY), Ted Deutch (Florida), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Florida), Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Elaine Luria (Va.) And six colleagues claimed that Omar’s comment could “cover up terrorist groups.”

“Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and despicable organizations that engage in terrorism discredits the intended argument at best and at worst reflects deeply ingrained prejudices,” they wrote – a snap to the GOP’s multi-year effort to portray Omar as an anti-Semite. The group sought clarification from Omar.

Their criticism has escalated the latest right-wing assault on Omar, a Muslim black American and former refugee who former President Donald Trump and other Republicans have called un-American. Omar’s fellow Democrats have refrained from mentioning her identity, but singling out her only reinforces Republicans’ efforts to demonize her and their entire party.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) And her five-person leadership team ultimately Posted a rare joint statement about Omar, warning against drawing “false equivalences”.

On Thursday morning, Omar’s office told reporters that she contacted her fellow lawmakers before releasing their statement and that they did not respond to her calls.

“The far right arouses hatred against Representative Omar for a technical question on an ongoing investigation. This has already led to an increase in death threats against her and our staff. And now, some of her own Democratic colleagues are arousing the same Islamophobic hatred against her, ”said Jeremy Slevin, Omar’s assistant.

Slevin’s commentary highlighted a critical part of the mess: its origins in the conservative commentary.

Before the Democrats intervene, far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) tweeted Tuesday that Omar was “an honorary member of Hamas” and a “terrorist sympathizer”. (Boebert is sympathetic to the QAnon conspiracy theory, which the researchers say is closely related to anti-Semitism.)

Former Trump campaign aide Jason Meister and disgraced New York Times reporter Judy Miller blasted Omar in a Fox News segment the same day. “Hatred of America and hatred of Israel have really become mainstream in the Democratic Party today,” Meister said.

As with past Republican-led attempts to use Omar to create a divide among their opponents, the narrative gained momentum once a prominent Democrat, Representative Brad Sherman (Calif.), weighed Wednesday. “It is not news that Ilhan Omar is making outrageous and clearly false statements about America and Israel,” Sherman said of his colleague.

Now, the big figures of the GOP see an opportunity to force a democratic civil war.

Citing Wednesday’s statement from House Democrats, Rep. Lee Zeldin (RN.Y.) mentionned the member of Congress should be removed from office of the House of Commons Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Minority Parliamentary Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) expanded Thursday’s offensive, claiming that if Pelosi had not “acted” against Omar, it would show that “Democrats tolerate anti-Semitism and sympathize with terrorists.” On the hook, Pelosi and his deputies released their statement less than three hours later.

Due to the slim majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives, only a handful are expected to vote with Republicans for the chamber to vote to reprimand Omar – a move the GOP leadership is planning, according to Punchbowl News.

The spiraling controversy largely ignored two critical points of the context.

Probing America’s responsibility for human rights abuses and coming to terms with its mistakes is something lawmakers do regularly when monitoring public officials and the use of taxpayer dollars.

Nadler, one of the signatories of the Omar statement, said said publicly, “America has committed horrific abuses during the ‘war on terror’” and has proposed reforms to prevent future excesses. And as Omar noted this week responding to criticism on Twitter, former President Donald Trump has repeatedly answered questions about Russia’s human rights record by noting where the United States went wrong.

Second, the allegations against Omar are inseparable from the racist assumptions about her, just as past attempts to portray her as a determined anti-Semite were inseparable from Trump’s comment that she should “return” to Somalia, the country that Omar was. then forced to flee a child.

Muslim Americans like Omar regularly facing allegations that they are not American or suspected of making statements similar to those of non-Muslims – in this case noting the commonly accepted fact that it is not just the enemies of the United States who are violating human rights.

The danger that puts them is intense because Islamophobic actions, statements and policies are so common in much of the world, from Trump’s ban on Muslims to violence against Muslims like the recent attack in Canada – creating an atmosphere general impunity for violence inspired by Islamophobia. For people with other marginalized identities like Omar, the risk is even greater.

Lawmakers “have no idea of ​​the danger they are putting [Omar] skipping private conversations and jumping to fuel targeted news cycles around her, ”Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) tweeted Thursday, saying Democrats had engaged in “defamation” and “intentional misrepresentation” of Omar.

Some Democrats want party leaders to see the pattern, check out their own possible biases, and resist the GOP trap.

Thirteen Jewish House Democrats were at a meeting Wednesday where Omar’s comments were discussed, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, but did not sign the statement later sent by some of their colleagues.

Omar gave his colleagues the clarification they said they wanted in a second statement on Thursday.

“The conversation revolved around the responsibility for specific incidents involving these [International Criminal Court] case, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the United States and Israel, ”Omar said. “I did not in any way equate terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”

Pelosi and his team said they “welcome the clarification.” But the party has already helped Republicans make significant strides in engineering a scandal shown, and has shown it still lacks a new and more effective response to an old GOP game.

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