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Ilhan Omar Has Exposed the Racism Permeating Congress


We knew this was coming. Progressives who are well aware of the disdain for Muslims and Progressives in American politics knew this day was coming. The 116th Congress is still young, and already both the Democratic and Republican parties are engaging in what Black and Intellectual is calling political warfare. Political warfare against the Progressive Left, against Democratic Socialism, and against Black and Brown people of color who identify with the aforementioned groups.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez receives an insane amount of attention from Fox News. Media Matters analyzed how much Fox talked about AOC over the course of 42 days. They found that Fox mentioned AOC every single day and exactly 3,181 times! That is a dangerous obsession. Even more dangerous when you factor in how much of it is total propaganda. 

However, ever since Ilhan Omar made a lighthearted jab about American politicians supporting Israel because of the money they take from the Israel lobby, there have been nonstop attacks. Omar’s “All About the Benjamins” tweet was two months ago. It was deleted and Omar made a quick apology the next day. An apology that many of her supporters didn’t feel she needed to make. Nonetheless, she did it and the attacks against her have only become more recklessly racist.

#IStandWithIlhan has become the social media hashtag her tens of thousands of supporters have used to call out both political parties. The Democratic Party only seems to call for unity when they want Progressives to get behind corporate politicians. Where is the unity around the defense of Ilhan Omar from these baseless attacks? It appears next to non-existent. Ilhan’s critics do nothing but prove her right.

#IStandWithIlhan is a rejection of the notion that Representative Omar is anti-semitic. That when she made her original tweet, she was attempting to stoke anti-Semitic animosity. It’s a rejection of the bad faith campaign that has been launched at her by FOX, the White House, and politicians within both parties. 

The Democratic Party Is in Dangerous Territory

The Democrats appeared to be getting off to a good start. Coming off of significant wins in the 2018 midterm elections, the Democrats started strong. They immediately got behind HR. 1 – The For the People Act which is still a good piece of legislation that will never pass with Trump in office. Democrats even recently passed the Save the Internet Act of 2019 to restore net neutrality back to the standards set during the Obama administration. Republicans are blocking everything that comes their way because they’re engaged in their own form of political warfare against the entire Democratic Party.

Despite the quality of some of the bills that have been passed in the House, the Democratic Party is still actively attempting to suppress the Progressive newcomers. That this is an asinine political strategy is obvious and clear as day. Last month, the DCCC made a decision to blacklist vendors that support primary challengers over party incumbents. A move widely-seen as an escalation of the internal power struggle within the Democratic Party.

When Ilhan Omar made her comments on Twitter, not only was she attacked by Republicans. She was attacked by members of her own party too! Imagine being a newcomer on any job and being treated this way by those you’d think would have your back.

#IStandWithIlhan because she’s a Progressive with great politics. I stand with her because she’s the first Muslim woman elected to Congress. I stand with her because she’s a Black woman and an African immigrant from Somalia. What certain members of the Democratic Party have done is so recklessly stupid and racist as hell that it could hurt them politically.

Democratic politicians from Chuck Schumer to Steny Hoyer have launched smears against Ilhan Omar claiming that she is anti-Semitic. Schumer went to AIPAC this year and compared Omar’s comments to Trump’s comments after Charlottesville – equating her with neo-Nazis. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also went to AIPAC and participated in the lies. He also supported the initial Democratic condemnation of Omar’s comments that were taken out of context.

The Democrats are in dangerous territory due to their ties to the pro-Israel lobby and their silence of Israel’s human rights crimes against the Palestinians. These ties are allowing them to take a politically-ignorant stance against a popular newcomer. Now, Ilhan Omar has received death threats due to this coordinated political warfare campaign. Her actual life is now at risk and she needs protection and both parties are guilty.

Trump and the Republicans Are Inciting Violence Against Their Political Opponents

The aforementioned AIPAC conference occurred in late March and it wasn’t just Democrats taking shots at Ilhan Omar. Of course, Republicans were there as well to join in on the dogpile. Making this bad faith smear campaign very bipartisan.

Meghan McCain continued her disingenuous attacks on Omar that she began on The View. She uses fake white woman tears and weak claims of anti-Semitism to hide the fact that she’s only relevant because of her father.

But the recent comments from Donald Trump have created a swarm of outrage. On Twitter, Trump used a clip of Ilhan Omar speaking about 9/11 and added in footage of the twin towers burning from the actual day. Then he had text above the video that said, “we will never forget.” This implied that just because Ilhan Omar is Muslim, then she is somehow responsible for the events of that day. This is a dangerous level of incitement coming at a time when Ilhan receives constant death threats.

A New York man was recently arrested for making threats to kill Ilhan Omar. It was no surprise when he turned out to be a Trump supporter. In February, a Coast Guard lieutenant was arrested for plotting a massive act of domestic terrorism. His list of targets consisted only of Democrats including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Smart money is on the likelihood that he too was a Trump supporter. In October of last year, another Trump supporter named Cesar Sayoc was arrested in the plot involving mailed pipe bombs. 

Trump-enabled terrorism is a real fucking thing and people need to start acting like it. How many foiled terrorist attacks by white extremists do people need to see the writing on the wall? The right-wing in America has become rabid and they are going to get someone killed.

The Racism Permeating Congress

America has been at war with at least one Muslim country since 2001. There are Americans who have never lived in a country not at war. To think this wouldn’t create a socio-political dynamic in this country that would turn all Muslims into ‘the enemy’ is to not know history – or not care.

There is a very racist, divisive, and confrontational Islamophobic sentiment in this country right now. It is strengthened by the presence of Donald Trump – a man who ran on banning Muslims and building a wall. What we have today is the result of over 17 years of equating Muslims with terrorists and not checking pseudo-journalism networks like FOX more aggressively. All of this energy put into Muslims and white supremacist extremists have been allowed to grow unchallenged and largely unrecognized until recently. Right-wing extremists are carrying out the majority of domestic terrorism attacks, but because they are white and conservative – there is no agenda to smear them. In fact, they are grossly protected in most cases.

The rot starts at the top in this country. The rot starts with a Congress so right-wing that they’ve laid the groundwork for fascism and authoritarian control of government – undemocratic and unjust. We see from the attacks on Ilhan Omar that much of the Islamophobia is also rooted in racism.

Let me be clear, I don’t believe all members of Congress are racist obviously. Yet for them, there is a system of white supremacy that must be upheld. Israel is a global player in this system. The colonial settler agenda they have against the Palestinians is receiving the full political and military protection of the United States government. Both parties are colluding with Israeli interests on this. It’s why America constantly blocks measures at the United Nations to hold Israel accountable for their crimes.

Stop and think. Can the political leadership of a country be trusted to uphold democracy when they fight so hard to maintain authoritarianism and xenophobia abroad? The democratic legitimacy of entire nations needs to be on the line.

There is racism permeating Congress, especially when it comes to Party leadership. Ilhan Omar is at the focal point of several archetypes racists love to rally around. Hatred of Muslims, hatred of Blacks, hatred of Women, and hatred of immigrants. That Ilhan Omar is a Black immigrant woman from Somalia who happens to be a proud Muslim is an image that white supremacists in government will always look to attack. Her very presence means there’s a face to their imperialist actions now. The people America loves to attack now have champions in positions of power.

To the people attacking Ilhan Omar, far-right extremists be damned – their main target is her. Not people doing actual terrorism. Which lets you know they never gave a damn about terrorism in the first place. They only saw it as a political weapon to use against countries they wanted to invade.


This article was originally published on Black and Intellectual.

Written by Brian Lewis

Brian Lewis is a part-time blogger who runs Black and Intellectual when he's not working hard in the financial sector. He defines himself as an Independent, Radical Progressive seeking to expand the freedoms and liberties of America, not tear them down. Check out Brian's website, Black and Intellectual.

Brian is a Guest Contributor to Progressive Army.

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Ilhan Omar Has Exposed the Racism Permeating Congress