Il­han Omar and Steve King: A tale of two flamethrow­ers

Antelope Valley Press - - OPINION - Larry El­der Com­men­tary

Eighty-six per­cent of Democrats con­sider Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump “racist,” ac­cord­ing to a July 2019 Quin­nip­iac poll. By con­trast, 91% of Repub­li­cans do not con­sider him “racist.” Per­haps more dis­turb­ing, a Novem­ber 2018 on­line Ax­ios poll by Sur­veyMon­key found that a whop­ping 61% of Democrats be­lieve Repub­li­cans are “racist/ big­oted/sex­ist.” A com­par­a­tively small 31% of Repub­li­cans feel the same way about Democrats.

For a party that con­sid­ers Repub­li­cans racist/big­oted/sex­ist, how do Democrats some­how, some­way man­age to tol­er­ate, if not em­brace, Rep. Il­han Omar, D-Minn? For a con­gres­sional first-ter­mer, her list of cringe­wor­thy, in­sult­ing and anti-Semitic re­marks is im­pres­sive.

Omar’s lat­est oc­curred shortly af­ter Trump au­tho­rized the drone strike that killed the Ira­nian ter­ror­ist leader Qassem Soleimani. Flanked by other Demo­cratic House mem­bers, Omar said she felt “ill” be­cause “of ev­ery­thing that is tak­ing place,” adding: “And I think ev­ery time I hear ... of con­ver­sa­tions around war, I find my­self be­ing stricken with PTSD. And I find peace know­ing that I serve with great ad­vo­cates for peace and peo­ple who have shown courage against war.”

Not a word of sym­pa­thy for the es­ti­mated 1,100 U.S. sol­diers maimed or killed be­tween 2005 and 2011 by ex­plo­sively formed pen­e­tra­tors, the use of which Soleimani over­saw. In re­sponse to crit­i­cism over her “PTSD” com­ment, Omar, a Mus­lim refugee from So­ma­lia, tweeted in re­sponse to Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., com­ments on her PTSD: “I sur­vived war as a child and deal with post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der — much like many who have served or lived through war. It’s shame­ful that you as a mem­ber of Congress would erase the PTSD of sur­vivors.”

Omar, in 2012, be­fore she be­came a mem­ber of Congress, tweeted: “Is­rael has hyp­no­tized the world, may Al­lah awaken the peo­ple and help them see the evil do­ings of Is­rael.” Af­ter her elec­tion to Congress, she apol­o­gized: “I heard from Jewish orgs. that my use of the word ‘hyp­no­tize’ and the ugly sen­ti­ment it holds was of­fen­sive. I spent ... lit­tle en­ergy (in) dis­avow­ing the anti-Semitic trope I un­know­ingly used, which is un­for­tu­nate and of­fen­sive.”

Then there were her ac­cu­sa­tions in Fe­bru­ary 2019 that sup­port­ers of Is­rael were de­luded or bought off. It’s “all about the Ben­jamins baby,” she tweeted. At a town hall shortly af­ter that com­ment, Omar said, “I want to talk about the po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence in this coun­try that says it is OK for peo­ple to push for al­le­giance to a for­eign coun­try.” Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., tweeted, “I am sad­dened that Rep. Omar con­tin­ues to mis­char­ac­ter­ize sup­port for Is­rael.” Omar did not back down, tweet­ing: “Our Democ­racy is built on de­bate, Con­gress­woman! I 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 peo­ple of the 5th elected me to serve their in­ter­est. I am sure we agree on that!”

Omar was dis­mis­sive of the se­ri­ous­ness of ter­ror at­tacks of Sept. 11, 2001. At a March 2019 fundraiser for the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Is­lamic re­la­tions, she said: “Here’s the truth: For far too long we have lived with the dis­com­fort of be­ing a sec­ond-class cit­i­zen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and ev­ery sin­gle Mus­lim in this coun­try should be tired of it. CAIR was founded af­ter 9/11 be­cause they rec­og­nized that some peo­ple did some­thing and that all of us were start­ing to lose ac­cess to our civil lib­er­ties.” “Some peo­ple did some­thing”? If Repub­li­cans have an equiv­a­lent to Omar, it is Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. He, too, has com­piled an im­pres­sive list of cringe­wor­thy, big­oted com­ments. Last year, the pro-life con­gress­man said: “What if we went back through all the fam­ily trees and just pulled those peo­ple out that were prod­ucts of rape or in­cest? Would there be any pop­u­la­tion of the world left if we did that?” In 2016, he said: “They chose to have a Con­gres­sional Black Cau­cus. They chose to have an abor­tion. I would give you even money that a vast ma­jor­ity of moth­ers who say they can’t af­ford an abor­tion have an iPhone, which costs more.”

Then came King’s in­ter­view with The New York Times in which he said: “White na­tion­al­ist, white su­prem­a­cist, Western civ­i­liza­tion — how did that lan­guage be­come of­fen­sive? Why did I sit in classes teach­ing me about the mer­its of our his­tory and our civ­i­liza­tion?”

Within days of that com­ment, House Repub­li­cans in­tro­duced a res­o­lu­tion of dis­ap­proval con­demn­ing King by name, as well as his re­marks. Ev­ery Repub­li­cans voted for it, as did all but one Demo­crat. Repub­li­can House lead­er­ship then stripped King of all his com­mit­tee as­sign­ments.

By con­trast, the Democrats, in re­sponse to Omar’s anti-Semitic com­ments, passed a wa­tered-down res­o­lu­tion that con­demned all types of big­otry, in­clud­ing anti-Semitism. But the res­o­lu­tion made no spe­cific ref­er­ence to Omar. And it ap­pears that Demo­cratic lead­er­ship did not even con­sider strip­ping her of com­mit­tee as­sign­ments.

A tale of two flamethrow­ers. Now which party is “racist/big­oted/sex­ist”?

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