Deconstructed with Mehdi Hasan: transcript and link to podcast of an exclusive interview with Ilhan Omar, who speaks out on her Twitter scandal.
Rep. Ilhan Omar’s tweets kicked off a massive debate on anti-semitism, but the pile on against her, a young black Muslim refugee woman, was disproportionate.
Published on The Intercept, Feb 28, 2019
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Earlier this month, Rep. lhan Omar, freshman House Democrat and one of the first two Muslim-American women ever elected to Congress, found herself mired in controversy over tweets about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, and the influence of money on congressional support for the Israeli government. Omar apologized after condemnation from right and left alike, saying she would step back and think through the criticism that she received from Jewish figures. Nevertheless, her tweets kicked off a massive debate about the limits on public criticism of Israel and the role of money in politics. Omar joins Mehdi Hasan on this week’s episode of Deconstructed and opens up about the Islamophobic and racist attacks she’s endured since entering Congress, discusses her work with the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and clarifies her position on the Venezuela crisis.
Ilhan Omar: There is an interest in putting us in a box of constantly defending our identities and I am not interested in being in that box. I am interested in defending my ideas and not my identity.[Music interlude.]
Mehdi Hasan: I’m Mehdi Hasan. Welcome to Deconstructed.
We have an exclusive on the show today: Ilhan Omar, freshman House Democrat, and one of the first two Muslim American women ever elected to Congress, talks to me for the first time about how she found herself in the middle of that huge controversy over anti-Semitism. She tells me why she’s opposed to U.S. intervention in Venezuela; and she makes it very clear that she won’t be bullied either by right-wing critics or by far-right death threats. It’s her first national and first broadcast interview since she hit the headlines earlier this month.
IO: The purpose of the apology was to make sure that the people who were hurt felt understood and heard. And leaving the tweets up no longer would be part of that. I wanted to make sure that we made amends.
MH: So this week: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, on AIPAC and Israel, and on the fight for a new progressive foreign policy.
She is fast becoming a household name. Ilhan Omar has been in the news for all sorts of reasons, good and bad, in recent weeks. She’s been targeted by a white nationalist domestic terrorist.
News anchor: Lieutenant Christopher Hasson made a hit list of prominent members of the Democratic party. Including Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
MH: And last weekend, a pair of idiotic alt-right social media activists, one of whom has since been suspended from Twitter, turned up in her district to try and find evidence of Islamic radicalism and no-go zones for non-Muslims. Spoiler alert: they failed.
Earlier this month, Omar shook up the Washington foreign policy establishment by challenging veteran warmonger and genocide denier Elliot Abrams, he of Iran-Contra and El Salvador death squads infamy, when he turned up in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on which she now sits, to talk about his new role as the Trump administration’s point man on Venezuela.
IO: In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair. I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.
Elliott Abrams: If I can respond to that —
IO: It wasn’t a question.
MH: The grand Abrams had never been challenged like that and certainly not by a black Muslim woman in a headscarf. But of course, the main reason Omar’s been in the headlines is for a pair of tweets.
Don Lemon: The congresswoman drew a firestorm of criticism when she replied to a tweet by journalist Glenn Greenwald by implying that politicians support Israel for campaign donations — “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.”
News anchor: Then in response to this tweet “Would love to know who Ilhan thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel,” Omar tweeted again “AIPAC.”
News anchor: Those comments now bringing condemnation from the left and the right.
Peter King: To be suggesting that somehow members of Congress are being paid off by jews, by AIPAC is absolutely shameful.
News anchor: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, leader Steny Hoyer and many others now, they say that they condemn what she has said — “Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize.”
MH: Omar did apologize, unequivocally, the following day, saying she was willing to step back and think through the criticism that she received from some Jewish figures. But her tweets about AIPAC and about the role that money plays in securing support for Israel from members of Congress kicked off a massive controversy about what is and what is not anti-Semitism.
Look, anti-Semitism is very real in the United States right now and anti-Semitic tropes involving Jewish money and secret Jewish cabals running the world are all too real too — though to be clear, personally, I do not believe Ilhan Omar was trying to be, or thought she was being, anti-Semitic. She, perhaps naively, thought she was highlighting a powerful and reactionary lobby group, no different to the NRA.
But the pile on against Omar, a young black Muslim refugee immigrant woman lest we forget, has been ludicrously disproportionate and at times, I think, hysterical. And then there’s the hypocrisy of some of the folks leading the attacks on her and trying to take the high ground on religious bigotry and anti-Semitism.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, joined with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to condemn Omar for her quote “deeply offensive” and “hurtful” and “prejudicial” tweets. The same Chuck Schumer who has been an apologist for Israel’s brutal and racist occupation for decades, decades. Here he is speaking at — where else, the AIPAC policy conference last year and explaining why he blames the Palestinians and only the Palestinians for the failure to get peace in the Middle East.
Chuck Schumer: Of course, we say it’s our land. The Torah says it but they don’t believe in the Torah. So, that’s the reason there is not peace.
MH: Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House Minority Leader, who’s been trying now for a while to get both Omar and her fellow Muslim congresswoman Rashida Tlaib punished by the House Democratic leadership for supporting the boycott-Israel movement, put out a statement in the wake of the Omar tweets condemning quote “harmful tropes and stereotypes.” McCarthy is the same guy who put out a tweet of his own last year, around the same time as George Soros was getting a pipe bomb in the mail — a tweet he later deleted — accusing three Jewish billionaires, George Soros, Tom Steyer, and Michael Bloomberg of trying to “buy” the midterms for the Democrats. I guess McCarthy is an expert on harmful tropes. And President Trump weighed in as well, demanding Ilhan Omar resign from Congress.
Donald J. Trump: Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress. Her lame apology — that’s what it was. It was lame and she didn’t mean a word of it — was just not appropriate. I think she should resign from Congress, frankly. But at a minimum, she shouldn’t be on committees.
MH: Sorry, we’re supposed to take lectures on anti-Semitism from Donald Trump? From Donald Trump? This is what Trump said in 2015 to a group of Republican Jewish donors.
DJT: I don’t want your money so therefore you’re probably not going to support me because stupidly, you want to give money. Trump doesn’t want money. But that’s okay. You want to control your own politicians. That’s fine.
MH: That’s not worth resigning over? Yeah, Donald Trump, who once said he wanted short guys in yarmulkes counting his money; who used to keep a book of Hitler’s speeches on his bedside table; who, as president, publicly praised neo-Nazis at Charlottesville, who were chanting “Jews will not replace us.”
DJT: You had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.
MH: Are you fricking kidding me? Come on. The world’s gone mad. Ironically, It was left to Representative Max Rose, a Jewish Democrat who was one of the first members of Congress to condemn Omar for her tweets but who then accepted her apology, it was left to him to point out the ridiculousness and the shamelessness of the Republican attacks on her, and also the awfulness of the media coverage.
Max Rose: When Kevin McCarthy said that it was Bloomberg, and when it was Soros, and when it was Steyer pulling the strings behind the scenes, none of you camped out and their caucus stayed united and had his back. And none of you called him out on that. That caucus can’t be chicken shit in the face of anti-Semitism either. So, seriously, you’re not agents of the Republican party.
MH: “You’re not agents of the Republican party.” In many ways, though, sadly, too many journalists, wittingly or unwittingly, have become agents of the Republican Party, with their ‘both sides-ism’, their constant, lazy indulgence of cynical bad faith attacks on the left, and especially on people of color, from the right, and their inability to call out shameless Republican hypocrisy. Whatever your views on Israel or anti-Semitism, that much has been made very clear to us all in recent weeks.[Music interlude.]
MH: My guest today is the woman who has been in the eye of the storm, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who was elected to House last November. Hers was a historic victory in many ways: the refugee who arrived in the U.S. aged 12, unable to speak English, but ended up becoming the first Somali American and the first ever Muslim woman in a headscarf to be elected to Congress. She’s also part of a new cohort of House members loudly pushing the Democrats to the left. Ilhan Omar thanks for joining me on Deconstructed.
IO: Thank you for having me.
MH: Congratulations on your historic election to Congress. You are one of the first two Muslim-American women to ever be elected, the first Somali-American to be elected the first refugee from Africa to be elected but not everyone is pleased to see so many women, people of color, Muslims, progressives elected to high office. Last week, we learned of a United States Coast Guard Lieutenant who prosecutors say had plans to carry out mass murder. He was found with a massive weapons cache at his home and he had a hit list of liberal politicians whom he wanted to kill which included your name on it. What was your reaction when you heard you were on his kill list?
IO: I was relieved to know that he was behind prison.
MH: But what about you being on that list? Because there does seem to be this weird obsession with you on the right and parts of the liberal left, but especially on the right right now who seem to be obsessed with you, have basically turned you into this kind of Boogeyman online to the point where alt-right social media activists turn up with guards in your hometown of Minneapolis last weekend looking for you and for evidence of ISIS and no-go zones for non-Muslims. It’s becoming kind of hysterical.
IO: It really is hysterical. I mean, I’m, you know, 5′ 3″ and weigh, I think, under a hundred pounds. So, to have these these people who are afraid of me. It’s kind of fascinating.
MH: A lot of people aren’t aware of the kind of crazy racist, Islamophobic abuse that you and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan have received since arriving here in Congress, incited some might argue, by some Congressional Republicans, by the president of the United States. What does that been like for you, the incessant hostility, abuse, your staff getting calls death threats?
IO: I think you know if you look at it within the context of what we are trying to do, it sort of feels like it comes with the territory. I mean, we’re shifting I think the idea of who should have a seat at the table. These systems really weren’t built for people like Rashida and myself. And I think we can spend a lot of time focusing on the doors that we have to open and keep open or let this deter us. And I think that’s what they would like us to do. They would like us to be afraid. They would like us to shrink but Rashida and I are quite used to bullies and we’ve always beaten bullies. And I think the people in our districts, I know the people in our districts who voted for us knew that we were the right people to come here and shake things up.
MH: This is beyond politics and shaking this up. You now have a literal target on your back. How much do you have to worry about your safety right now?
IO: I’m a person of faith. So, I know that I will leave this Earth when the time comes and I know that there is important work for me to do and so I’m focused on that.
MH: Your critics, some of your die-hard opponents would say that you’ve brought a lot of this animosity and hostility on yourself, they say. They say you’re anti-Semitic. They would point to your tweet from 2012 where you said Israel had hypnotized the world which you apologized for recently and of course, a few weeks ago ,you dominated the news headlines in this country for several days after your tweet about the influence of AIPAC money on members of Congress after which you were condemned by your own leadership, after which you came out and apologized. Why did you tweet that line “It’s all about the Benjamins?” What was going through your mind at that moment?
IO: I mean, it’s no secret that money dominates the political discourse in this country. I mean, it’s one of the dirty secrets that is not so secret. And so for me, it was really speaking to that. It was speaking to the fact that we have a problem in our democracy and that problem is the influence of money.
MH: So you since apologized unequivocally for the tweet. You said rightly, that anti-Semitism is real but just to be clear I mean, we’re a few weeks on now. I mean, what were you apologizing for? Was it a badly worded tweet that you apologizing for or was it for being anti-Semitic wittingly or unwittingly?
IO: Absolutely not, I apologized for the way that my words made people feel. Often times, you know, we are in places where someone will say something and they might not know how it makes you feel and it’s not acceptable that once you express to them that this is hurtful or that you have felt attacked by their words. They should acknowledge how you feel. They should speak to that. They should apologize. And you know figure out a way to remedy that situation.
MH: That’s why you apologized.
IO: That is why I apologized.
MH: And is that why you deleted your tweets this week? Because the chairwoman of the Republican party is all over Twitter suggesting that was some sort of bad move on your part or bad faith move on your part.
IO: I mean for a Republican who always makes a bad faith move to call someone out on that is laughable, as you just did. The reason, you know, and the purpose of the apology was to make sure that the people who were hurt felt understood and heard. And leaving the tweets up no longer would be part of that.
MH: Matt Duss who’s a senior foreign policy adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted at the time, “To every day Democrat who said nothing about the anti-Muslim bigotry, harassment, and bullying Representative Ilhan Omar has been enduring over the past months, but only spoke up to criticize her, you are part of the problem.” Do you feel like your fellow Democrats, especially the leadership, threw you under the bus?
IO: I mean, you know, we are a party that really believes in having an inclusive society — one that has no tolerance for the actual hate or the resemblance of hate.
I think it was appropriate for our party to speak on it. And you know, it was appropriate for me to acknowledge the harm that it caused but I think people conflate two things. I think there were some people who were condemning me not only on the hurt that the words could cause, there were people who were actually condemning me for speaking the truth about, you know, the kind of influences that exist, that determine, you know, out foreign and domestic policies and for that I think, you know, my tweet kind of spoke to it.
MH: But even Bernie Sanders I think was the only presidential candidate who’s running in the race who rang you up recently and gave you some words. He did that kind of privately. He didn’t do it publicly. And what did he say privately that he couldn’t say publicly?
IO: I mean, you know it is important for many of these conversations actually to happen privately. And what Bernie and I talked about was how important it is for us to acknowledge, you know, the kind of historical traumas that exist and the weight that some words carry, but also, you know, thinking about how important it is for us to talk about oppression.
MH: You didn’t apologize for citing AIPAC by name in your apology. In fact, you said very specifically that you reaffirm “the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA, or the fossil fuel industry.” I think a lot of people will be agreeing with that. You said we must be willing to address it. Chris Hayes of MSNBC tweeted recently and I quote — “I really don’t think the Democratic establishment and AIPAC and others have quite grasped just how much they are losing and have lost wide groups of the Democratic party base.” He said “AIPAC could end up going the way of the NRA in terms of being stigmatized in progressive circles. Can you —
IO: Yeah, and you will hear people say, you know, the NRA doesn’t own me. You will hear people saying I will not be bought by the NRA —
MH: In fact Donna Shalala was one of those people, your fellow Democrat who said that.
IO: — Which implies that there are other members who are bought by the NRA. And so when you mention that about other lobbying groups, then you are reprimanded.
MH: I guess the problem is, as you’ve now recognized, I think we both agree when it comes to AIPAC and when it comes to Israel, we all have to just be more sensitive because there are these anti-Semitic tropes about cabals of Jews controlling the world. And that’s what we have to avoid but be able to have an honest discussion about lobbying.
IO: Yes, and I think, you know, no one really in the context of the conversations that I’ve had sees that that’s what I’m doing.
MH: Yeah, I mean we talk about Saudi money in Washington D.C. and Saudi lobbyists. You’ve been very critical of Saudi Arabia. You even called for a boycott of Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi —
IO: But no one calls me Islamophobic because I’m Muslim.
MH: Yeah, indeed or nobody says that criticizing Saudi Arabia is Islamophobic. It’s interesting because people say if you support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, BDS, as you do, that’s anti-Semitic and it’s because you’re picking on Israel. Although you’ve actually picked on Saudi Arabia as well, which I find Ironic.
IO: But I think the theme here is because I’m Muslim. You know, there have been many members within journalism, within politics, within all kind of aspects of our society who have spoken about the kind of influence that AIPAC has on Congress and on our foreign policy. No one calls them anti-Semitic because they are Jewish but when it comes to someone like me, even the slight mention of them —
MH: I guess you fit their pre-conceived notion of what an anti-Semite —
IO: Yes, and it says a lot about them than it does about me.
MH: I mean, this is a debate we need to have. This is why I come back to your Democratic colleagues, they kind of need to take some of the lead here. It can’t just be you, Rashida, with a little bit of AOC pushing this out there. It needs to be some of your kind of older, whiter, male-er colleagues should we say.
IO: But I think what — we go back to the original question you asked. I think there is an interest in putting us in a box of constantly defending our identities. And I am not interested in being in that box. I’m interested in defending my ideas and not my identity.
MH: Just on ideas, just to be clear on policy, by the way, we know you support BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. But what is your actual position on a “solution to the conflict?” Are you for a two-state solution or are you, as a lot of people on the left, a lot of progressive Jews, a lot of Palestinians now calling for a secular Democratic one-state solution in the Middle East? Where do you stand on that?
IO: I believe in a two-state solution. I think it is important for there to be the existence of two states that allow both of the peoples that are involved to have their own sanctuaries, their own states. Now, if there are Palestinians and Israelis that are interested in having a one-state solution that involves both of them, then that is a decision that they get to make and something that they get to advocate for. But I’m not one that sees there to be a solution that will involve one. I think the only solution that works right now is to advocate for two.
MH: You’re a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. You used your position on that committee amidst of the row over the tweets to really grill Trump’s envoy on Venezuela, former Reagan official Elliott Abrams for his frankly indisputable record of genocide denial and war crimes apologia in the 1980s.
IO [at committee hearing]: Yes, or no? Do you think that massacre was a fabulous achievement that happened under our watch?
EA: That is a ridiculous question —
IO: Yes or no?
MH: Millions of people watched that video on Twitter, on Facebook. It went viral. Why has it taken that long for a person like that, with a record like that to be held to account in front of a congressional committee?
IO: I’m someone who represents many identities that have constantly been debated in that committee. And for the first time, I actually get to sit on that committee. For many years, I’ve spent time screaming at the TV asking questions and wishing someone on that committee would hold people accountable for the actions that they have been part of that has caused so much harm around the world. And when I had my opportunity, I wasn’t going to let it go to waste.
MH: Yep, and what’s interesting is you had Democrats, members of — former members of Democratic administrations, grandees of the foreign policy community here in Washington D.C. coming out in defense of Abrams saying you were unfair to him. You were mean to him. He’s actually a really nice guy. And part of me thinks this is the reason why so many people didn’t want you on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, still don’t want you on that committee. It’s got nothing to do with, you know, your tweets. It’s got to do with the fact that you’re going to ask these uncomfortable questions of people in power that haven’t really been asked before.
IO: Exactly, exactly, I mean today we were talking about refugees and I sat in committee and you know, one of the committee members was talking about vetting refugees and how that process should work. And when they got to me I said, you know, it’s fascinating that we talk about this and here I am. I sit now on this committee and I can tell you a little bit about what that process looks like and the kind of contributions I made once I came to the United States. And so, it is a great opportunity for my unique voice to be on that committee and my unique voice is one that does not align with many other voices.
MH: I was gonna say the fact —[Crosstalk.]
MH: — That you’re on that committee probably makes those people want to vet refugees more. To stop more of you from turning up on their Congressional committee.
IO: I mean, I think, you know, we have had policies that have created refugees around the world, but because we are so focused on those refugees we’ve never asked about those policies. And for the first time, we’re going to have a refugee on that committee who asks about the policies that led to people becoming refugees.
MH: One of the big migration crises right now which is affecting the United States of course, and the region is Venezuela, which has produced an outpouring of people and Donald Trump claims to care about the people of Venezuela, even though he won’t let them in as refugees, interestingly enough. You’ve been outspoken in recent days in opposing U.S. intervention of any kind in that country. You even got into a spat with Bret Stephens the neo-conservative columnist at the New York Times who accused you of being pro-president Maduro and pro-starvation.
IO: The only kind of dichotomy that they have. You’re either for regime change and bombing countries and destroying the fabric of that society or you must be a lover of a dictator or you know, that particular regime or whatever that’s going on there. And it’s not that. It’s about making sure that we follow international law. It is about protecting the sovereignty. It’s about allowing people to have self-determination. It’s about making sure that we are not constantly using our resources to destroy other people’s resources. It’s about awakening the American people to the realization that there are profits to be had and there is a purpose for our involvement in many of these countries. And it’s about really reckoning with this idea that we go to war in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and in Yemen and in Somalia, but then we put them on a ban and we don’t allow those people who we have made refugees to come into this country.
MH: The hypocrisy’s amazing.
IO: And so, if we want to have policies that put us in good standing with people then we should. We should act with diplomacy. We should act with fairness. We should protect life and we should protect people’s resources.
MH: So, what do you want to see happen in Venezuela? Do you have a solution, a preferred option of what should happen?
IO: Well the constitution of Venezuela says that there needs to be an election called within 30 days and we’re waiting for that to happen. What we should be involved in is having diplomatic conversations and bringing people to the table and being a partner in facilitating that. But we are threatening, we are threatening intervention. We’re sending humanitarian aid that is in the guise of, you know, eventually invading this country and the people of the country don’t want us there.
MH: You don’t support your fellow Democrats and, like the U.S. government does and the Canadian government does, you don’t support the leader of the opposition as being the president right now, not present leader?
IO: Absolutely not.
MH: Okay. We’ve seen Bernie Sanders try and drag the Democratic party to the left on foreign policy in recent months and years just as he did on domestic policy in 2016. Is that what you’re trying to do now? Because I would say a lot of Democrats don’t agree with you on Venezuela. They don’t agree with you on Israel. People in your party like Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Eliot Engel, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, they seem to be perfectly happy with the status quo on foreign policy, this huge defense budget, this endless wars, this constant itch to intervene, meddle in other countries. What do you do about it? How do you push back against that? Are you trying to push back against that?
IO: I certainly am. I mean, for many of them it’s just muscle memory, right? They just have to edit their last statement on whatever, right, insert a new country name. And for me, I’ve seen the destruction of war. I believe that there is a more positive way for us to have influence on the international stage. We have to make sure that we have a foreign policy that is in line with our values.
MH: Which U.S. foreign policy hasn’t been in line with for decades. Trump just makes it more obvious. Just before we finish now that you’re on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. You’re under this relentless 24/7 scrutiny, especially from the right and from some fellow Democrats, are you going to tweet less or tweet more carefully? Maybe fewer rap lyrics, I might say, or in this age of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is there now an expectation that all of you guys have to be ready with an instant quick put-down, pithy one-liner on Twitter?
IO: I mean, there might be more appropriate rap lines I should be tweeting. I don’t think this is about whether you tweet more or tweet less. It’s about figuring out where a comfort spot might be. I believe that there are a lot of people who analyze my words differently because of their preconceived notions about who a Muslim is, who a refugee is, who you know, this black woman is. And I think, you know, there is an opportunity for me to heal people from their Islamophobia, from their anti-Blackness, from their racism. And it is a process that we all have to be engaged in and I’m okay with people being uncomfortable. I have been living with that discomfort for many years. And so I’m going to push people as much as I can.
MH: So then let me ask this as the final question. What would you say is the single biggest lesson that you think you’ve learned in recent weeks from being in the eye of this political media firestorm on so many different issues?
IO: I think when there is an opportunity to display humility and step back and really look at your actions, there are many doors that open that you might not have even realized existed. I think, you know, I’ve had much deeper conversations with a lot of my colleagues that would have probably taken me years to have. And as I always say, you know, I mean, I’ve been through a lot of turbulent situations and every turbulent situation I have been in, there’s always been and a positive outcome for me and growth. And so, this is one that I don’t look at with a negative lens. I think there is much more positive outcomes than negative.
MH: Ilhan Omar, thanks for joining me on Deconstructed.
IO: Thank you so much for being here. Appreciate it.
MH: That was congresswoman Ilhan Omar in her first broadcast interview since that controversy over her tweets about Israel and AIPAC. I didn’t think my first interview with her as a member of Congress would be focused so much on all the hate she gets, on death threats. It’s pretty depressing. I remember telling my Muslim daughter to be full of pride that we now had someone in Congress who looks much more like her or her mother and yet here she is on the receiving end of so much hate and abuse I would argue because of that head scarf, because of that Muslim identity, because of that skin color. Look, is she perfect? No. Should she think twice before posting tweets on contentious sensitive issues? Uh, yeah. But is the coverage of her ridiculously disproportionate? Yes. Is it in bad faith a lot of the time? Yes, is it hypocritical? Yes, but above all else, it’s dangerous. It is dangerous to demonize a young Muslim woman of color in this way and just watch Fox News. Listen to right-wing talk radio. They are turning her into a boogeyman in a country where there are nutjobs out there with guns who I don’t even want to start thinking about what they do when they hear this stuff and watch this stuff. And I do hope that Democrats and liberal journalists who have been sitting on the fence for the past few weeks watching this unfold in front of their eyes get off the fence and start taking a stand in defense of the likes of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who face brazen bigotry and very dangerous threats day in, day out and I hope they do it soon.
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