What Exactly Is AOC Trying to Say About Ilhan Omar?

Photo: AP

Rep. Ilhan Omar has been the subject of a smear campaign for weeks, with the worst people in politics weaponizing her indelicate, but entirely defensible, critique of the powerful Israel lobby’s influence in Washington.

Politically, this has created a tricky situation for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, her colleague and a fellow freshman congresswoman. Morally, this should not be difficult: Omar has apologized for some of her comments and gotten back to the business her constituents elected her to do, even as conservatives—and too many Democrats—have continued adding fuel to the fire.

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On Wednesday, members of Omar’s own party were reportedly preparing to bring a House resolution to the floor to do something about this ongoing controversy, although it’s not yet clear whether that measure will seek to condemn Omar specifically or anti-Semitism in general.

Omar could use some strong allies in her corner now more than ever. So it’s with all this in mind that I’m left not knowing what to make of Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter thread today, which is broadly about Omar.

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OK.....so far so good.....But then:

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“I often think about how I work with white or male allies when they say something insensitive,” she also tweeted. “The 1st thing I do is pull them aside + say “hey, you may not be aware of X thing regarding Latinx people, but here is the history and it’s hurtful. If you want to learn more, read Y.”

So this would seem to broadly be...about tolerance? About how to deal with racists and bigots in your everyday life in a humane, educating way, rather than just “calling [them] out”? Where does Ocasio-Cortez see Omar in this parable— as the one who could stand to learn something about racism and bigotry?

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I sure would love to know. (I’ve reached out to her office and will update this post with any response I receive.) It would also be good to know if Ocasio-Cortez agrees with Omar’s comments about the power that groups like AIPAC have in Washington. What’s clear, for now, is that if you can’t decipher the defense, it’s not worth much.

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