What a Joke

Screenshot: C-SPAN

After some will-they-or-won’t they flip-flopping from Democratic leadership this week, the House passed a vague resolution broadly condemning hate Thursday afternoon.

The resolution originated as a rebuke of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar for her remarks criticizing the Israel lobby’s influence in American politics. The resolution ultimately passed 407-23, with 23 Republicans voting against it. (Omar, of course, voted yes.)

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After an initial draft was criticized for its focus on only condemning anti-Semitism, the final seven-page text of the resolution allowed members to signal they also stand against Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination. (It was reportedly postponed further on Thursday so that members of some groups, such as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, could be represented as well.)

As we’ve written about at some length, Omar’s remarks were weaponized as anti-Semitic not only by some Democrats but also by conservatives and elected Republicans without so much as a leg to stand on when it comes to criticizing bigotry. And the text of the resolution makes clear what this was: a defensive maneuver by Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, most concerned with scolding a freshman congresswoman back in line, and a desperate attempt to avoid being called racist by the party that’s racist.

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“Whereas whether from the political right, center, or left, bigotry, discrimination, oppression, racism, and imputations of dual loyalty threaten American democracy and have no place in American political discourse,” the text reads.

While the resolution doesn’t mention Omar by name, it condemns specific anti-Semitic tropes that have been employed by both the president and top Republicans:

Whereas anti-Semitism is the centuries-old bigotry and form of racism faced by Jewish people simply because they are Jews;

[...]

Whereas accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel or to the Jewish community than to the United States constitutes anti-Semitism because it suggests that Jewish citizens cannot be patriotic Americans and trusted neighbors, when Jews have loyally served our Nation every day since its founding, whether in public or community life or military service;

On the floor, members got the chance to posture about just how much they hate hate—turns out: racism? They HATE it!! Kevin McCarthy, who tweeted and deleted an actual anti-Semitic trope about George Soros just last month, testified last, and had the audacity to yell at members like a deeply disappointed dad.

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“We have to keep bringing resolutions to the floor to tell people anti-Semitism is wrong,” McCarthy shouted, apparently not remembering that the first resolution concerned a member of his own party who routinely touts his naked white supremacist beliefs in public.

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Earlier on, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who’s making a real run for worst rank-and-file Republican member of the chamber, took the mic to reiterate that his favorite president didn’t collude with Russia and that he feels the Mueller probe is “harassment” of Donald Trump. Good boy, Trump could almost be heard telling his Oval Office TV. Gaetz made no mention of the fact that he brought a Holocaust denier as his guest to the State of the Union, an issue no one else raised either, which goes a long way to demonstrate the tone and depth of the debate around this resolution.

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One Republican also wondered aloud why Wiccans weren’t included in the resolution.

One final time, because I hope this is the last we have to hear about this manufactured controversy, though I doubt it will be: That’s not what Omar said. But in rushing to align with the right and distance themselves from a rare, genuine critique of American foreign policy, the Democrats have said all they need to on this issue.

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