Politics can bring to light the ugliness that lingers within our society, whether that be racism, sexism, bigotry, anti-Semitism or xenophobia. The celebration of black history in February or women’s history in March are some positive ways of combating that ugliness.
This year will be the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. So, let’s talk about one particular woman and the double standard held for women, especially women of color.
Freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) made headlines last week and is at the forefront of a debate raging in Congress right now about controversial remarks she made about pro-Israel activists whom she said were pushing “for allegiance to a foreign country.”
It should be noted that Omar is one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress and has been seen by many in the younger, progressive circles as a trailblazer.
The debate taking place is between older House Democrats and their younger liberal colleagues over whether Omar is being singled out for unfair treatment for her statements.
The president has called on her to resign from her committee posts, Republicans have called her anti-Semitic and House Democratic leaders have vented their outrage.
The younger generation of newly elected House Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and liberal groups such as Justice Democrats and IfNotNow, have accused the Democratic leadership of singling out a woman of color while allowing blatantly racist, sexist and bigoted comments to slide from Republicans, including President Donald Trump.
Those accusations do not go unfounded. It took years for Republican leaders to take any significant action against Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) who, over the years, has made racist and bigoted comments.
Only last year was King removed from his committee assignments after asking when “white supremacy” had become an offensive term.
GOP congressional leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was under fire when he tweeted during the midterm election that George Soros, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer were trying to buy the election. All three men have Jewish roots.
Despite the unfair treatment of Omar, there’s another incident that took place over the weekend which should have been on media headlines but was not.
At a Republican-sponsored public gathering at the West Virginia Statehouse, an anti-Muslim poster had been placed showing a photo of Omar side by side with an image of the World Trade Center engulfed in flames as a result of the 9/11 terror attacks.
To be clear, there were condemnations from House Democratic leaders, progressives and West Virginia delegates. What should be noted is the quietness coming from Republicans and Trump.
Omar has apologized for her remarks and has made it clear where she stands in United States-Israeli relations.
Unfortunately, she will continue to be the subject of unfair treatment because she is young, a woman and Muslim. In this America, those features make her an easy target for politicians and of course, Republicans.