With the fate of American democracy as we know it on the line as Republicans redraw districts and ram hundreds of restrictive voting laws through state legislatures across the nation, it is immensely frustrating to see the Democratic Party once again devolve into petty infighting and self-policing over prickled sensitivities and the quiet complaints of shadowy donors.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is once again at the forefront of controversy for stating the truth, no matter how uncomfortable that truth might be. In a tweet, the Somali-born Congresswoman demanded the same level of justice and accountability for crimes against humanity committed by the United States and Israel as we demand for militant groups like Hamas and the Taliban. In the tweet, she included of video of her confronting Secretary of State Antony Blinken about why the United States is still obstructing International Criminal Court investigations into atrocities committed by the U.S. and Israeli militaries.
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
Rep. Omar is simply asking for the United States to respect human rights and hold itself accountable for violating them. This, however, turned out to be heresy of the worst sort in Washington.
Republican politicians immediately turned the racism up to 11, smearing Omar as a terrorist sympathizer and employing all the usual horrendous Islamophobic and anti-immigrant tropes and narratives they always do whenever Rep. Omar is brought up.
Ilhan Omar, honorary member of Hamas, just compared the US military with the Taliban.
Sadly, it’s not even surprising anymore.
We have terrorist sympathizers in Congress and it is being normalized by the MSM.
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) June 8, 2021
Unfortunately, these narratives are legitimized by Democrats who refuse to recognize the nuance in her words and instead choose to punish her for speaking out on behalf of those who America murders overseas, too scared of Republican attack ads and too insecure in their own messaging, preferring to throw the troublesome representative to the racist wolves than stand up for what’s right.
It wasn’t long before a group of 12 Democratic lawmakers issued a statement publicly criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and demanding she “clarify” remarks that they say equate the United States military and Israel with militant groups like the Taliban and Hamas.”Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided. Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and contemptible organizations that engage in terrorism at best discredits one’s intended argument and at worst reflects deep-seated prejudice,”‘ said the group.
Next up in the pile-on came the entire Democratic House Leadership, who also fed into the false narrative that Rep. Omar had equated the United States with the Taliban, which she did not do. It is beyond craven for them to throw her under the bus like this while immediately conceding the argument to the right-wing without even putting up a fight.
Wow, a rare statement from the *entire* Dem leadership on this pic.twitter.com/dlhD3nGkkw
— Sarah Ferris (@sarahnferris) June 10, 2021
They weren’t the only ones. The media, both right-wing and center, jumped at the chance to harvest hate clicks and fan the flames of Islamophobia with blaring headlines accusing Rep. Omar of “equating the U.S. to the Taliban,” deliberately misrepresenting her demands for accountability and painting her as an instigator of interparty division.
inevitably sparked an avalanche of absolutely deranged and insanely vicious death threats from Republicans obsessed with the bad faith narratives and racist tropes that conservatives employ against Omar — narratives that are legitimized by Democrats who refuse to see the nuance in her words and instead choose to punish her for speaking out on behalf of those who America murders overseas.
TW: Every time I speak out on human rights I am inundated with death threats. Here is one we just got.
“Muslims are terrorists. And she is a raghead n*****. And every anti-American communist piece of s*** that works for her, I hope you get what’s f***ing coming for you.” pic.twitter.com/Kid7qUgZDZ
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 10, 2021
When a bomb explodes in the Middle East or Central Asia, do the victims care who set it off or why? Do they experience any less terror and agonizing pain as their bodies are shredded by shards of fiery metal that came from an American bomb rather than a Taliban one? Is the grief of a man whose entire family has been killed and whose home is destroyed any less devastating? Is the slaughter of a field of farmers in Afghanistan any more outrageous a crime when committed by the Taliban than it is when committed by the United States?
It’s clear from the political response to this that the janitorial staff of the American imperial death machine — a United States Congress that obediently rubber-stamps increasingly outrageous military budgets with each passing year — perceives the very acknowledgment that the United States routinely commits crimes against humanity across the world as an existential threat. For decades now, we have sent our young men to die on foreign battlefields while lying to the public about why they were going, what they were accomplishing, if there would ever be an end to the violence, and how many innocents we’ve harmed along the way.
Nobody has ever been held accountable for any of it — not the lies, not the torture, not the corruption or the waste, not the deaths, and certainly not the murders. To hold ourselves accountable for one thing would open a Pandora’s Box that could unravel the entire tapestry of nationalistic bullshit and comforting State Department fables that we use to justify neglecting the needs of the American people in order to continue funneling tax dollars into the coffers of the weapons industry.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.