Being a Republican politician in 2021 comes with two central difficulties. The first and most obvious is that you have to be willing to abandon any principles you’ve ever claimed to hold. To find a place in the Trump-poisoned GOP you have to demonstrate absolute loyalty to the orange-skinned Godhead of the party and a willingness to endorse everything he says — even to the point of claiming that a free and fair election was actually stolen by his political enemies. Democracy is a concept you must pay lip service to while aggressively pursuing an authoritarian agenda.
The second difficulty is finding a personal brand. Since the Republican Party can offer no material benefits to voters because its sole purpose is to funnel more wealth to the uber-rich, GOP politicians are forced to rely on culture war issues to rally voters. Some pick abortion, some pick guns, others immigration or religion. More and more though, Republicans are relying on overt racism to froth up their base.
Yesterday, a clip of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) went viral on Twitter. In the video, taken at a recent campaign event, Boebert told an anecdote about running into Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in an elevator at the Capitol. Boebert claimed that a nervous police officer raced up to them at which point she said, “Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine.” Boebert was suggesting that because Omar is Muslim she might be trying to place an explosive device in the building.
Boebert claimed that she and Omar rode the elevator and she doubled down by looking at the Democratic Congresswoman and saying, “Oh look the Jihad Squad decided to show up to work today.” The bigots in the crowd responded with glee and applause.
“Don’t worry it’s just her staffers on Twitter that talk for her,” Boebert added. “She’s not tough in person. She doesn’t… Yes.”
This is mainstream Republicanism now: hardcore, unrepentant racism.
Ilhan Omar — who is a thousand times the Congresswoman Boebert is and who actually cares about delivering improvements to the lives of her constituents — retweeted the video and said the “the whole story is made up.” She said Boebert is a “buffoon” who “looks down” when she sees Omar in person, adding that it’s “sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout.”
“Anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t funny & shouldn’t be normalized. Congress can’t be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslims tropes get no condemnation,” added Omar.
The grim reality is that Boebert will not be held accountable for her hateful comments. Her party has demonstrated time and again that such bigotry is not only tolerated, it’s encouraged. That said, the Democratically-controlled House can still strip her of her committees and formally censure her. They must do so immediately.
Fact, this buffoon looks down when she sees me at the Capitol, this whole story is made up. Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout.
Anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t funny & shouldn’t be normalized. Congress can’t be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslims tropes get no condemnation. https://t.co/S1APT7RbqW
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 26, 2021
Boebert apparently didn’t expect her horrific comments to spread so far so quickly and today she took to Twitter to offer a tepid apology to the Muslim community. She claimed that has reached out to Omar’s office to “speak with her directly” and said she’d rather focus on “policy differences” rather than “this unnecessary distraction.”
While her comments were certainly “unnecessary,” they’re much worse than a simple “distraction.” This woman is a virulent racist, she knows her base loves Islamophobic rhetoric, she’s just afraid of the consequences. She likely fears that she’ll be stripped of her committee assignments and lose the power and influence that goes with them. There is absolutely no reason to take her apology as sincere. She must be held accountable for her bigotry.
I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar. I have reached out to her office to speak with her directly. There are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction.
— Rep. Lauren Boebert (@RepBoebert) November 26, 2021
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This is a staff report from former Occupy Democrats Editor in Chief Colin Taylor or contributor Rob Haffney.