House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was not too happy with comments made Sunday night by freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who seems to have made anti-Semitic remarks her calling card.
This morning, prior to Omar’s non-apology, I posted about Omar’s controversial tweets and the blowback she was receiving in the twitterverse. It can be read here, I wrote:
In response to a tweet from liberal journalist Glenn Greenwald in which he criticized US support of Israel, Omar tweeted “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” This was a reference to a 1997 rap song by Puff Daddy.
Ilhan’s tweet sparked blowback from both sides of the aisle. First, she was called out by The Forward’s Batya Ungar-Sargon who tweeted “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess. Bad form, Congresswoman. That’s the second anti-Semitic trope you’ve tweeted.”
Omar replied, “AIPAC!” AIPAC is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a “lobby group that does not donate to politicians, which regularly has been accused by progressives of agitating for a conflict with Iran.”
After being called into the principal’s office, where Pelosi called on Omar to apologize for the “use of anti-Semitic tropes” about Jewish people and money. a less strident Omar issued the following apology.
Listening and learning, but standing strong 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/7TSroSf8h1
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
It appears that Omar has quickly learned the fine art of the “non-apology apology.” The distinguishing feature of this technique is that the apologist says some nice words, but located somewhere in the middle of their statement comes one of the following words. “But,” “because,” or as in Omar’s apology today, “at the same time.” What follows this transitional word is the reason the person feels justified for saying what they said or doing what they did. And it suddenly becomes clear the person is not sorry, after all.
Pelosi and several other Democratic House leaders issued a joint apology of their own condemning Omar’s comments and called on her to apologize.” Their statement said:
We are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests. Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share.
But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.
Pelosi wasn’t the only House Democrat to disapprove of her remarks. Several of Omar’s colleagues condemned her comments as well.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) issued a statement.
While of course our nation’s leaders are free to debate the relative influence of a particular organization on our country’s policy-making process, or the factors that make our system of governance imperfect, there is an expectation of leaders — particularly those with a demonstrated commitment to the cause of justice and equality — that they would be extremely careful not to tread into the waters of anti-Semitism or any other form of prejudice or hate. Rep. Omar failed that test of leadership with these comments.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said, “I fully expect that when we disagree on the Foreign Affairs Committee, we will debate policy on the merits and never question members’ motives or resort to personal attacks.” (Omar is a member of this committee.)
Reps. Omar and Tlaib have displayed their anti-Semitic sentiments so frequently that it’s difficult not to tie the anti-Semite label around their neck. Boldness is good ladies, but diplomacy is ever better. You both have a lot to learn.