The House of Representatives adopted a resolution condemning all forms of bigotry (including anti-Semitism) after a long day of linguistic gymnastics that saw it morph from censuring Rep. Ilhan Omar to frowning on… intolerance.
The thrice-rewritten bill was barely recognizable as a rebuke of the alleged anti-Semitism of the Minnesota Democrat, instead bristling with denunciation of bigotry against every imaginable minority group in the US – a process that began when Omar’s supporters requested the language be modified to include Muslims.
The final resolution veered close to self-parody after Democrats insisted Latinos, Asians, Pacific-Islanders, and LGBTQ people be added to the “traditionally persecuted peoples” list, pushing the vote back an hour on Thursday afternoon. Internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and even the Dreyfus affair – which took place in 1800s France! – were name-dropped in the final version of the bill.
The final vote was 407 in favor, with 23 Republicans opposed.
“I am here… debating a resolution that all of us should have learned in kindergarten: ‘Be nice. Don’t hate’,” Rep. Doug Collins (R-Georgia) said, marveling at how it had taken a week to draw up the seven-page bill that essentially amounted to little more than a call for common decency.
Many of the Republicans who opposed the bill insisted Democratic leadership should have modeled the resolution on their own rebuke of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) earlier this year, after he appeared to defend white supremacy in an interview. The resolution was originally drafted as a formal rebuke to Omar for more comments perceived by party higher-ups as anti-Semitic. By Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) was claiming it was not necessary to refer to her by name, declaring Omar hadn’t intended her comments “in an anti-Semitic way.”
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) declared the Democrats were controlled by “far-left extremists who can’t even muster the courage to stand up to blatant anti-Semitism,” calling the vote “a sad day for the House.”
I am told everyday that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 3, 2019
“I am told every day that I am anti-American if I am anti-Israel,” Omar tweeted last week, touching off the latest firestorm after adding that she “should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”
The subsequent attacks on a politician who is, according to the rules of identity politics, the perfect Democrat (as an immigrant Muslim woman of color) – from mostly wealthy, mostly white high-ranking Democrats and Republicans, not to mention the deep-pocketed Israeli lobby she had condemned – came off as bullying and seemed to prove her point to many, rallying supporters to her defense on Twitter. Perhaps remembering their duty to please voters in 2020, Democrats backed down at the last minute.
This didn’t stop the Lobby from claiming Omar’s scalp after the resolution was passed, of course – inspiring double-takes from pro-Israel hardliners who’d wanted to see Omar stripped of her committee position. Meanwhile, fresh off their “no” vote, several Republicans also took to Twitter to voice their displeasure at the “sham” resolution.
ADL says Dem leaders “have made clear that what Omar said was anti-Semitic.” This is a lie — yesterday Dem leaders said in unison that what Omar said is not anti-Semitic. Which is also a lie. What a dumpster fire. https://t.co/Ue9At8EVuV
— Noah Pollak (@NoahPollak) March 7, 2019
If your goal this week was to highlight the stupidity of the Israeli government and Likud in particular, congratulations.
— Spergin Morlock (@ch4dderbox) March 7, 2019
I voted NO on the ridiculous resolution that purported to condemn speech that is not at issue. Rep. Omar has made specific multiple anti-Jewish statements. The resolution failed to mention her or her statements. So I will: I condemn anti-Jewish hate speech by Rep. Omar. pic.twitter.com/GRkS0PtHNZ
— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) March 7, 2019
H.Res.183 was spineless, watered down & filled w moral equivalency & double standards. Watch my floor speech explaining my NO vote to this resolution. Name names & remove Rep Omar from @HouseForeign. No double standards! pic.twitter.com/Rj17P6MHFI
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) March 7, 2019
Somewhat ironically, Omar has been subjected to harassment almost since her arrival on Capitol Hill in January, due to her religion, foreign origin, and outspoken opposition to Israeli influence in government. A poster of the congresswoman underneath a picture of the twin towers burning actually sparked a fight in the West Virginia statehouse last week.
Even before calling out AIPAC in a tweet that was perceived by some (including AIPAC and its beneficiaries in Congress) to be anti-Semitic, Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) – the first Muslim women to serve in Congress – were condemned by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for criticizing the billions of dollars in aid funneled to Israel every year despite its continuing violations of international human rights law.
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