Minnesota’s newest Democrat representative in Congress, Ilhan Omar, has been in a lot of hot water lately. Omar, a Muslim woman from Minneapolis, has a history of anti-Semitic remarks. Unfortunately, when Democrats were put to the test, they utterly failed to condemn her.
A History of Comments
Last month, Omar was criticized for tweeting in 2012 the following: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel.”
Around the same time, Rep. Omar also tweeted that, “It’s all about the Benjamin’s,” in reference to Jewish money in American politics. This was, in particular, a reference to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
At the time, people defended her. Some claimed that she wasn’t speaking in an anti-Semitic vein, but was criticizing Israel.
This doesn’t hold up. The terms she’s using reveal a great deal. “Israel has hypnotized the world” stands in an ugly stream of criticism of Jews going back over a century. The phrase embodies the false notion that Jews are secretly pulling the strings of world affairs. Omar’s next comment, that for Jews it’s “All about the Benjamin’s,” is also morally repugnant. Jews have a history of working with money, for historical, cultural, and legal reasons. But this nowhere says that Jews are controlling things through money.
Now Omar has done it again. This time, she tweeted out that Jews have dual loyalty to Israel and the United States. This was so ugly that even Rahm Emmanuel, the deeply liberal Mayor of Chicago, decried her remark as anti-Semitic. The claim that Jews owe a great loyalty to the Jewish State, over their own nations, is an ugly claim. It implies that Jews cannot be trusted simply because they’re Jewish. Accusing people of disloyalty simply because of their ethnicity is one of the ugliest possible types of racism.
An Important Distinction
Claiming that Jews are controlling world events through money, or that Israel is a global Svengali, or that Jews cannot be trusted, is morally gross. Ilhan Omar deserved the criticism she received from almost everyone on the Right.
In intellectual fairness–which Omar in no way deserves–it’s important to note that one can criticize Judaism, Israel, and Jewish persons without being an anti-Semite. As a Christian, I have deep disagreements with Judaism, but still hold its great men in high regard. Libertarians like Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard, and even paleoconservatives like Pat Buchanan, have all criticized Israel in the past. Israel is fallible, so are all nations, so yes, criticize Israel.
For example: I recently read an argument from British writer Sir John Bagot Glubb. Glubb argued that Israel should cede its holdings in the Golan heights and find a two-state solution. His book was published in 1971. I disagreed with Glubb, but you can rationally argue for a two-state solution, or even that Israel should cede land.
What made Omar’s “commentary” different is that she is speaking in terms of historic anti-Semitic tropes. It was not an intellectual or principled argument. Such tropes should be disallowed in polite society, and certainly within the halls of Congress.
How Democrats Failed the Test
To quell the controversy around one of the Democratic Party’s “fresh faces,” House Democrats put together a statement censuring anti-Semitism. Then they changed it by adding a list of other things to also denounce, including anti-Muslim bigotry. It’s quite a list if you’d like to read it.
The Democrats have failed the Omar Test. What is the Omar Test, you may ask? It runs like this:
When a member of your own political party or faction says something terrible, do you disagree with it? If it is awful enough, do you denounce them?
The Right, and Republicans, passed this test recently. When Iowa Rep. Steve King equated Western civilization with white nationalism, he was roundly criticized. The House of Representatives censured King by name, and the GOP stripped him of congressional committee appointments.
This author also joined in that criticism of King. In the past, when King was arguably correct, I defended him. And when he went too far, I slammed him for it. The same should go for anyone else. Many lovers of liberty admire the political theory of John C. Calhoun, for example, while slamming Calhoun for defending slavery as a “positive good.”
If the GOP can do this when Steve King crosses the line, why can’t Democrats do this for Ilhan Omar? Why can’t they denounce her statements, and remove her from positions of authority?
Escaping from False Equivalency
Media sources are hardly any better. The New Republic boasts a vile piece, claiming that there is a campaign to silence Omar. The author compares Omar to Frenchman Alfred Dreyfus, a French officer who was accused of betraying military secrets in 1894. Dreyfus was a secular Jew, and an innocent man. His case split French opinion, giving an example of the depth of anti-Semitic feeling within even secular France of that time.
Alfred Dreyfuss was an honorable officer, whose life was ruined by falsehood. Ilhan Omar is a gross individual who should be primaried as soon as possible. She ought to be relegated to the moral ghetto of American political life, to sit beside other anti-Semites at the Daily Stormer and in the racist alt-Right.
Fortunately for Omar, she claims victim status. If you’re a victim, you get to cheat at the Omar test.