Let’s Be Honest About Ilhan Omar
Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) is under attack. On March 18th, 2019, House Republicans introduced a resolution to condemn the progressive firebrand for some comments she made back in February regarding Israel and the influence of their lobby on American politics. In the wake of a far-right terrorist mercilessly taking the lives of 50 worshippers at a New Zealand mosque, these so-called “representatives” are more concerned with victimizing a Muslim woman of color— who, as we’ll get into, did nothing wrong— than doing something about the global rising tide of deadly, hate-filled extremism.
Even Omar’s own party establishment went after her as certain House Democrats concocted a plan to punish Omar for speaking up about an issue of great import. Trump even called on her to resign from her elected office, though basically everything he calls for is utterly ridiculous— and usually in more ways than one.
So, what could Representative Omar have possibly said to incite such a negative response? Well, for starters, she drew a link between American political leaders’ support for Israel and the great power and clout of the Israel lobby. This is, of course, wholly reasonable. After all, is the point of a lobby not to use the resources at its disposal to bring those in power around to their way of thinking?
AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) is very likely the most powerful and influential lobbying group of any kind in the country. One need not look further than their line-up of speakers at any given one of their annual conferences to see this. For example, the list of speakers at the 2016 installment of their yearly policy conference reads like the roster of a political all-star team.
2016 was an election year, and literally everyone who had even the slightest chance of becoming the next US President spoke. Hillary Clinton, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and then-Vice President Joe Biden were all in attendance. No lobby in the country has anywhere near the bipartisan support at the very highest levels of our government that this one does.
And while Omar’s detractors might make the point that AIPAC does not directly give money to political campaigns, this distinction amounts to little more than nitpicking and semantic trickery. The fact of the matter is that AIPAC doles out huge sums of cash to groups ideologically aligned with them and directs them on exactly how to spend that money. Ilhan Omar simply brought attention to this fact. In other words, she said absolutely nothing wrong.
The other comment of hers that received significant— and unjustified— pushback was made on a panel with fellow progressive House newbie Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. Omar said: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country”.
Again, this statement comes across as wholly reasonable. Is the idea that foreign lobbies of any kind coming into our country and trying to take control of our state apparatus to forward their own ends sound to you like something that should be shunned, or celebrated? Certainly when those ends conflict with the interests of most Americans, the answer is clearly the former. After all, isn’t the job of our elected officials to put America first?
Despite this, you see little public debate revolving around this issue. As more and more Americans continue to be left behind and neglected by this country’s ruling class, the more the priorities of those in positions of power should be called into question. With tens of thousands of people dying in the streets of America every year for a lack of healthcare, falling real wages, record income inequality and societal stratification, and a rapidly decaying environment, does it really make sense for billions and billions of our tax dollars to go towards propping up the military of a country with more human rights violations to its name than every other country combined? Our government subsidizes war crimes at the expense of the American citizen.
This begs the question: who’s really deserving of condemnation? Those who propagate such a twisted system, or those who call attention to it in an attempt to make us all better off? Incredibly, a small but vocal minority believes it’s the latter.
In response to Ilhan Omar showing courage and speaking up about these issues, she has been met with a litany of vicious and baseless attacks. She has been called a whole host of derogatory names, and many have even labelled her an “anti-semite”. This is, of course, utterly ludicrous. Make no mistake: the goal of these attacks are to stifle dissent, not curb real hate.
The fact of the matter is that money in politics corrupts. Is it wrong to say that the integrity of a politician who receives large donations from insurance companies is compromised when it comes to healthcare policy? Is it wrong to say that an elected official bought off by big oil likely has little to no objectivity when it comes to issues concerning the environment and climate change? Of course not. So, why apply a different standard to Representative Omar’s remarks?
Anyone claiming that what Omar said had anything to do with anyone’s religion or ethnicity is simply trying to deceive. There is no honest way to get from point A— what Omar actually said—, to point B— allegations of bigotry of any kind. While many publications have published pieces trying to make that link, a heavy amount of obfuscation, mental gymnastics and non-sequiturs were employed to make such an “argument”— and I use that word very loosely— even a little bit coherent.
You are allowed to feel any way you want about what Ilhan Omar had to say. What are you not allowed to do is mendaciously slander someone for telling the truth. We should all applaud the Congresswoman’s bravery for standing up and letting her voice be heard in the face of those powerful interests who so desperately wish to silence her.
I pray that Representative Omar’s bravery will serve as an inspiration to people not just in this country, but around the world, to speak up and say what’s really going on no matter who doesn’t like it. We need to consolidate a critical mass of people who are willing to stand up for truth and not be afraid if we are to have any hope of finally taking the country back. Voters are growing ever more distrusting of the talking heads who seek to control our minds and set the agenda at every turn, thereby circumventing the democratic process.
The American people are desperate for honesty. Representative Omar gave us honesty, and for that reason, we have to stand by her. Because if telling the truth becomes a treacherous act, it’s over for America.