In July of 2020, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — 25 percent of “the squad” and the source of roughly 75 percent of its bad laughs — tweeted that “cancel culture” wasn’t really a thing. And even if it were, it would be a good thing.
“The term ‘cancel culture’ comes from entitlement – as though the person complaining has the right to a large, captive audience,& one is a victim if people choose to tune them out,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.
“Odds are you’re not actually cancelled, you’re just being challenged, held accountable, or unliked.”
The term “cancel culture” comes from entitlement – as though the person complaining has the right to a large, captive audience,& one is a victim if people choose to tune them out.
Odds are you’re not actually cancelled, you’re just being challenged, held accountable, or unliked.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 10, 2020
Someone should show that tweet to AOC’s fellow squad member, Rep. Ilhan Omar.
The Minnesota Democrat isn’t just complaining that she’s getting canceled for her frequent anti-Semitic utterances. No, Omar says — you’re literally putting her life at risk by calling out her bigotry.
And by the way, there’s not a whole lot of calling out going on. When Omar released a video in June in which she compared Israel and the U.S. to terrorist groups, barely anyone in her party was there to condemn her remarks.
“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity,” Omar tweeted in the midst of fighting between Hamas and Israel. “We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”
We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity.
We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) June 7, 2021
At the time, all the Democrats could muster was a statement signed by 12 representatives stating, “The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups. … We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the US and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban.”
But Omar said she was the victim.
“Every time I speak out on human rights I am inundated with death threats,” she tweeted on June 9. She included the audio of one of them: “Muslims are terrorists. … And every anti-American communist piece of s*** that works for her, I hope you get what’s f***ing coming for you.”
She then blamed both Fox News and GOP Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, both of whom drew attention to Omar’s latest bout of anti-Semitism. “It is enabled by a political culture–in both parties–that allows and often fuels Islamophobia,” she added.
WARNING: The following video contains graphic language that some viewers will find offensive.
This is incited directly by articles like this and far right politicians like this.
And it is enabled by a political culture—in both parties—that allows and often fuels Islamophobia. pic.twitter.com/93ixmVCmMx
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 10, 2021
In other words, don’t criticize her for being an anti-Semite, or else sick people will leave her rebarbative messages. By holding her accountable, Fox and Boebert were literally threatening her life.
Now, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is threatening Omar using her own words, too.
According to Israeli news service Haaretz, the AIPAC — — the biggest pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. — has taken out a series of Facebook ads targeting Democrats who have made statements about Israel ranging from the irresponsible to the anti-Semitic.
In Omar’s case, the ad reads, “For Ilhan Omar, there is no difference between America and the Taliban. Between Israel and Hamas. Between democracies and terrorists. Tell Rep. Omar: Condemn terrorists, not America.”
In a Wednesday tweet, Omar’s communications director accused the AIPAC of putting her life at risk.
“The language AIPAC uses in paid ads to smear and vilify [Omar] is virtually identical to the language used in death threats she gets. Make no mistake: AIPAC is putting Rep. Omar’s life at risk with repeated Islamophobic attack ads,” Jeremy Slevin tweeted.
He included screen shots of the AIPAC ad and the threatening message Omar received and tweeted on June 9.
“It shouldn’t have to be stated, but baselessly linking Muslim-Americans to terrorism is *the* textbook example of Islamophobia and is routinely used to silence advocacy for Palestinian human rights,” Slevin added.
It shouldn’t have to be stated, but baselessly linking Muslim-Americans to terrorism is *the* textbook example of Islamophobia and is routinely used to silence advocacy for Palestinian human rights.
— Jeremy Slevin (@jeremyslevin) August 11, 2021
I don’t know if it’s possible to catalog every way those tweets are misguided, but let’s try.
First, the language in the AIPAC ad and Omar’s death threat tweet are not “virtually identical” — in fact, they have nothing in common.
Second, the AIPAC is using Omar’s own words. Did Slevin not watch his boss’ video? If he did, his position is that one shouldn’t hold Omar accountable because the very act puts her in danger.
Third, the ad isn’t baselessly linking Muslim Americans to terrorism. It’s pointing out that a Muslim American equated Israel and the U.S. to terrorists. (For what it’s worth, the AIPAC also ran ads criticizing leftists who aren’t Muslim for saying similarly cretinous things, as Haaretz reported.)
Finally, if Omar is advocating for “Palestinian human rights,” the Palestinians probably need a more effective advocate. Progressives aren’t going to get much traction with false equivalencies between democracies and terrorist groups.
Let’s not forget that Omar didn’t make her comments in a vacuum. She’s arguably been the most open and prolific anti-Semite in Congress in at least half a century — and she’s only been in office since 2019.
In February of 2019, Omar tweeted that U.S. policy toward Israel was “all about the Benjamins,” implying that Jewish money was buying American influence.
Later that month, she brought up the anti-Semitic canard that Jewish-Americans have dual loyalties: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” she said at a panel discussion, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
When Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey of New York called her on it, Omar repeated the nonsense in a tweet, saying she “should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”
Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that! https://t.co/gglAS4FVJW
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 3, 2019
In July of 2019, she introduced a resolution to the House of Representatives supporting Israeli boycotts, likening them to boycotts of Nazi Germany.
To paraphrase the words of Ocasio-Cortez, the idea that Omar deserves to be protected from her own speech comes from a sense of entitlement — as though she’s a victim if people push back on her using her own rhetoric.
Odds are she’s not being threatened by the AIPAC, she’s just being challenged, held accountable and unliked.
If the public fallout from her words and actions makes her uncomfortable, there’s a solution to that — and it doesn’t involve playing the victim.
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