On Ilhan Omar, Assad Fetishism, and the Danger of Red-Brown “Anti-Imperialism”

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Perhaps no elected official has ever been subjected to the level of vitriol, threats, and attacks that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the first Black Muslim woman ever elected to Congress and one of only two Muslim women there, has. And while we cannot be surprised that Omar was mercilessly attacked by the Israel Lobby and its various appendages and mouthpieces for speaking plainly about Israel’s policies and its influence in US politics, the degree of viciousness was appalling.

Omar was variously described as disloyal to the US, an adherent of sharia law, and an anti-semite. These attacks came from both Democrats and Republicans, and were themselves intended to stoke further animosity in the media and social media. They were designed to cow the Somali-American Omar, intimidate her into silence so she won’t speak openly about apartheid Israel’s crimes, or grill and publicly humiliate war criminals like Elliott Abrams in the way she did, or assert any independent voice in the oversight of US foreign policy.

And when Omar was being attacked, many who describe themselves as leftists or anti-imperialists rushed to her defense. Indeed, it seemed that Omar had overwhelming support from the relatively small, yet somewhat influential, online political community of mostly leftists.

But among that online community of Ilhan Omar supporters was a vocal contingent who deserve special scrutiny. And the reason is that today these same “supporters” are…

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