Washington elites seemed to hold a competition Sunday over who could appear most outraged by Muslim Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s suggestion that lawmakers’ pro-Israel stances were influenced by money from AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobbying group that spent over $3.5 million last year.
“Anti-Semitic tropes have no place in the halls of Congress,” decried House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Twitter. “It is dangerous for Democrat leadership to stay silent on this reckless language.” Though Democrats were in fact not silent on Omar’s comments. “Congresswoman Omar’s statements are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself,” tweeted Democratic Representative Max Rose. She was even called down to the speaker’s office where after a “conversation” she began backpedaling with a lengthy apology posted to Twitter.
“Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” she wrote in part. “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole.”
Congresswoman Omar touched one of the third rails in American politics: criticism of Israel. She should have in no way been surprised by the backlash. However, many of her Republican critics seem to conveniently forget their own party’s anti-Semitism.
At the head of the Republican Party, you have Donald Trump who as recently as October accused George Soros, a Jewish philanthropist, of funding the so-called “migrant caravan.” His comments came days after a crazed Trump supporter mailed Soros a bomb. He also once told a room full of Jewish Republicans “This room negotiates perhaps more than any room I’ve spoken to, maybe more.”
Aside from his infamous “very fine people on both sides” remark, in which he appeared to defend participants in a white nationalist rally that left a counter-protestor dead, Trump has not received any significant backlash over his remarks.
The pearl-clutching Kevin McCarthy doesn’t approach this issue with clean hands either. “We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th,” the California Republican wrote in a now-deleted tweet from 2018. His tweet implying three wealthy Jewish people were poised to “buy” an election is very similar to exactly what he criticized Ilhan Omar for.
The right-wing will defend any behavior, no matter how deplorable, as long as it suits their white supremacist agenda. From the president on down, they have repeatedly shown they will excuse all manner of bigotry and bad behavior as long as someone has an “(R)” after their name. They stood by Trump even after a leaked Access Hollywood tape revealed him bragging about sexual assault. Steve King, who recently said he didn’t understand why white supremacy was offensive, still has his seat in Congress. Republicans even almost sent an accused child molester to the United States Senate in an attempt to keep the seat in GOP hands.
It is no coincidence that the only time Republicans are willing to stand up for religious minorities is when they can weaponize faux-concern to attack a Muslim woman. Even when they may have a valid point, we must realize their motivations are almost never based on principle.