Speaker Pelosi. CNN screenshot.
[Speaking Truth To Empower]
The recent condemnations and largely baseless mischaracterization, of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar is exposing the Democratic Party’s hypocrisy and failures in fighting against White institutional racism. Yet the Democrats decided to quickly pass a resolution to chill criticism of the Israeli government’s policies against the Palestinians, under the guise of denouncing anti-Semitism.
Democrats are attacking Rep. Omar’s First Amendment rights while staying silent about the systematic racism within this country that is causing continual damage and death to Black Americans, Latino Americans, and other minorities.
This makes it clear more housecleaning, within the Democratic Party, must be done in future elections by progressive voters. Black Americans must pay attention to the contrast in how Democratic leaders are behaving—because of Omar’s words—as opposed to their weak responses to the outrages –police violence, state neglect of education, health and housing in Black communities– happening here in America.
This is why we need more electoral upsets like the ones that just gave us Prosecuting Attorney for Missouri, Wesley Bell, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar herself.
Isn’t it interesting how leaders of the Democratic Party find their voices to condemn anyone who criticizes the Israeli government—but are pathetically passive in addressing the systemic institutional racism that is killing African-Americans regularly?
Rep. Omar is the latest victim of the campaign to crush and intimidate dissent with an aim to force uniformity and silence. In recent months, Civil Rights icon Professor Angela Davis and Professor Mark Lamont Hill have been similarly been falsely accused of anti-Semitism because they dared to speak frankly about the injustice Palestinians face under the yoke of the Israeli government.
Somehow, anyone who criticizes the political policy of Israeli leaders, toward Palestinians, is automatically blanket-labelled anti-Semitic. Should any African-American leader, or Black person, once criticized, for anything—regardless of how guilty he or she maybe of the charges— also cry racism? That would make any White person who criticizes any Black person instantly racist.
Last week, amid internal friction, House Democrats passed a resolution purportedly to denounce all forms of bigotry and bias. However, the very manner in which the document was written belies that notion. The document’s inclusion of other forms of bigotry, besides anti-Semitism, were done belatedly.
It took inside pressure for Democratic Party leaders to include in the resolution the racism African-Americans face.
This controversy started because of recent statements made by Rep. Omar at the famous Poets and Prose bookstore in Washington D.C. Omar, the first Somali-American to serve in Congress, was speaking there along with Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American to serve in Congress. Omar and Tlaib are the first two Muslim women to serve in the United States Congress.
Given the marginalized and ostracized constituencies Omar and Tlaib serve it shouldn’t be a surprise they’ve become embroiled in conflicts in a Congress that ignores those they represent.
During her speech, Rep. Omar said several things. But the part that has been most scrutinized, and used to claim she is anti-Semitic, is when she said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Many objected to this as being anti-Semitic, while conveniently forgetting the words she spoke right before this when she complained that discussion was being stifled so “the broader debate of ‘what is happening with Palestine” is silenced.
So here we see Democrats leading the charge to suppress the debate about what is happening to Palestinian people, whose lives are controlled by the Israeli government. Democratic leaders have made it clear that what is happening to Palestinians is to be tolerated, no matter how wrong it is. The Democratic House resolution was crafted in the spirit of strangling criticism of the crimes of certain members of the Israeli government—a government where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be indicted soon on criminal charges including fraud and bribery. A government whose officials have also stoked racism toward Africans in Israel.
If it weren’t for the revolt of progressive elements within the Democratic Party, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, we would’ve gotten a document denouncing anti-Semitism, solely—in a country where the oppression of Black Americans continues, daily. The House resolution opening lines condemn “anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values and aspirations that define the people of the United States and condemning anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contrary to the values and aspirations of the United States.”
These statements run contrary to the living legacy of White racist abuse against African-Americans.
In reading this resolution, it becomes clear how much of an afterthought African-Americans are to Democrats. In the opening paragraph of their resolution we see nothing regarding White supremacy—they only get to that several paragraphs down in the document.
How is it, given the deep history of White racism in America, that the authors of this document address racism against African-Americans much later?
Black America continues to face the daily deadly effects of institutional racism. Numerous reports and studies tell us anti-Black racism is killing and incarcerating high numbers of African-Americans. When do we see Democrats fervently fighting for Black people victimized by racism? When has Speaker Nancy Pelosi been at the forefront denouncing this crime with a resolution in the past?
Over the last few years, America, and the world, have been furnished with the proof Blacks always knew: that racist policy exists in most police departments throughout the country. Black Americans are the primary pawns in this so-called criminal justice system that criminalizes Black people and makes money off them.
For example, the Justice Department admitted officials in Ferguson, Missouri, were balancing the city’s budget off the backs of Blacks. This was done by aggressive policing in order to arrest more Black people, write them up on charges and collect revenue in the form of fines and bail money. The prejudiced policing also led to contempt toward Black people and to the kind of attack that led to the execution-style killing of teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.
Similar type of prejudiced policing have claimed the lives of Black people around the nation. Black lives just don’t matter to these political pillars of White America including in Congress.
Imagine, former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was sentenced to less than seven years last January for the videotaped execution of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald who was shot in the back. Where was the outrage from these so-called leaders in the Democratic Party who are now so upset about the words of Rep. Omar to this unjust sentence? Did Omar’s words choke anybody to death or put bullets into anyone’s back?
Currently, in New York City, a video just made public—from a March 6, 2017 incident—shows the vicious beating of a homeless man by Department of Homeless Services Police Sergeant Cordell Fitts with support from other law enforcement officers. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said, “the abuse in this video is sickening,” and called the attack a “horrific breach of trust.”
De Blasio claims “we have zero tolerance for it.” Where is the evidence this mayor has “zero tolerance” for police abuse?
The mayor’s statement isn’t anchored to anything of substance. Blacks continue to be brutalized and killed by police in New York City and across America. This is the same mayor who after NYPD officers turned their backs on him gave up the fight against cleaning up the rotten racism within the NYPD; in other words, he turned his back on New York City’s Blacks voters. He should have fired Officer Daniel Pantaleo for strangling Eric Garner to death on July 17, 2014 using a lynch-hold.
Democrats who selectively denounce African-Americans falsely accused of anti-Semitism but say little about the racism that kills Black Americans and other non-White minorities are the kind who need to be voted out from elected office.
Rep. Omar is bravely trying to address the plight of Palestinians and leading voices such as presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, who himself is Jewish, has come out in her defense as has prominent journalist Glenn Greenwald.