From reprimanding Rep. Omar to a broad anti-hate vote: the beginning of the end of double-standard in Washington?
BY SOUMANOU SALIFOU
Just minutes ago, the U.S. House of Representatives now led by a Democratic majority overwhelmingly passed an anti-hate resolution triggered by statements made over the past two weeks by freshman representative Ilhan Omar from Minnesota’s 5th district. The vote was expected to take place two days ago, but was delayed due to an inside disagreement among Democrats.
The resolution was initially intended to squarely reprimand Omar over remarks she made last week in which she took issue with U.S. “allegiance to a foreign country,” Israel, just two weeks after she stated that U.S. support for Israel is driven by financial donations from a prominent pro-israel lobby group. The Congresswoman was reprimanded (though not by a vote) for her previous statement that some viewed as anti-semitic, and had publicly apologized.
The political firestorm triggered by Omar’s remarks, leading the Democratic leadership in the House to issue a unified statement to condemn her, was disproportionate, unfair, and ignores the new momentum—not to say the new normal—in the lawmaking body.
Even though Donald Trump had made multiple, unambiguously anti-semitic remarks in the past, one needs not dwell on his call on Omar to resign her seat in Congress following the congresswoman’s statement two weeks ago. Trump, as everyone knows, has no credibility, and his pronouncements deserve no respect. But it’s strange that, in the same U.S. Congress where it took one of the well-known members, Republican Representative Stephen King, years and years of outright racist statements before finally being formally rebuked earlier this year, Omar endured such harsh criticism from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. While Omar’s tweet may be troubling to some, especially the wrong choice of the word “allegiance,” the farce in all this is obvious. The routine use of hate language in public against Muslims, the LGBT community, blacks, native Americans, and more these days is appaling. No wonder, at the end of the day, the resolution had to be expanded to include the general pervasive hate language that hiked since Obama was elected president and has grown larger since Donald Trump, arguably the most prejudiced president the U.S. has known in decades, came to the White House.
Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to the U.S. Congress, along with the new crop of legislators comprising an unprecedented number of women, are determined not only to push for the progressive agenda they have been elected on (healthcare for all, increasing minimum wage to $15), but also to speak their minds about issues that may rub members of the older generation in their party the wrong way, as well as many hypocrites in and outside political circles.
Soumanou Salifou is the founder, publisher and CEO of The African Magazine.