Trump Demands Rep. Ilhan Omar Resign For Bigoted Tweet And Now Irony Is Dead & Buried In Shallow Grave
Donald Trump is finally making a stand against bigotry — not his own, mind you, or any actual real-life bigotry. No, he's leaping on the National Review-style bandwagon that any true prejudice comes from the left.
Yesterday, Trump demanded that Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar resign because of some dumb comments she'd made on Twitter about Israel for which she'd already apologized. Trump's entire political career is based on offensive tweets. He's retweeted literal white supremacists. He frequently calls a sitting US senator "Pocahontas." He justifies the slur because Elizabeth Warren is not "really" Native American. We expect tweets any day now that refer to Amy Klobuchar as "Kunta Kinte."
However, Trump thinks it's finally time that a politician faced consequences for their bigoted statements beyond the mere slap on the wrist of the presidency.
TRUMP: I think she should either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. What she said is so deep-seated in her heart that her lame apology — and that's what it was, it was lame, and she didn't mean a word of it — was just not appropriate.
Trump has the nerve to say that Omar has bigotry "in her heart." This is peak Trump trolling, because whenever a Democrat is asked if Trump is a racist, they usually demur and moderate their response, claiming they don't know what's in his "heart" but that he's said and done "racially charged" things. Chuck Todd asked Sen. Sherrod Brown directly if he believed Trump was a "racist" in his heart. Why does this even matter? It doesn't take a cardiologist to know Trump's a racist. You only need to observe his words and deeds.
It's also laughable that Trump would question the sincerity of Omar's apology. On the rare occasions that Trump apologizes for anything, it is clearly scripted and read like he's recording a hostage video. He normally just doubles down on his bigotry. He once insisted Judge Gonzalo Curiel couldn't be impartial in his fake university lawsuit because Curiel was "Mexican." He was born in Indiana.
Paul Ryan called Trump's comments the "textbook definition of racism" and then voted for Trump as president, which is the textbook definition of hypocrisy. Republicans are very accommodating of Trump's bigotry. However, things are different under House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. He stripped Iowa Rep. Steve King of his committee assignments. So it's only fair House Speaker Nancy Pelosi do the same to Omar. Although, King has a history of overtly racist statements. Omar is the nice corner deli that gave you food poisoning once. King is the dive that keeps getting shut down by the health department.
Trump himself has a history of gross statements about Muslims. He also keeps trying to ban them from entering the country. We don't really trust what he says about one of the first Muslim women in Congress. Michael Cohen's guilty as sin, but we still wouldn't let Louis Farrakhan on his jury.
The GOP also traffics in the same negative Jewish stereotypes Omar carelessly invoked. They frequently claim George Soros is secretly funding every form of political protest they don't like. McCarthy tweeted before the midterms that Americans shouldn't let Soros, Mike Bloomberg, and Tom Steyer (all Jews) "BUY this election." Maybe McCarthy should strip McCarthy of his committee assignments.
Most of us offended by Omar's tweets understand that Republicans are not arguing in good faith. They are just weaponizing this incident to divide and conquer and attack a young Democratic congresswoman. Staten Island Rep. Max Rose, who was among the first to call out Omar, rightly criticized Republicans as being "chickenshit" when it comes to anti-Semitic remarks from their own caucus.
The Progressive Caucus today dismissed Trump's criticisms of Omar as "transparently cynical." Caucus chairs Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Mark Pocan said Trump lacked the moral authority to criticize anyone. After all, he couldn't even manage an unequivocal denunciation of goddamn Nazis in Charlottesville. He infamously said there were "some very fine people" on both sides.
Omar is part of a new wave of progressives who, while generally idealistic, share a harsh view of money in politics that can quickly veer into negative stereotypes and bad faith arguments. Any "neoliberal" or "centrist" who opposes, say, the Green New Deal or Medicare for All has been bought and paid for by "corporate" money. If we learn anything from Omar's mistake, perhaps we'll start extending the benefit of the doubt to the people who hold views with which we disagree. Maybe the GOP blocks all gun safety legislation because they genuinely believe in what we consider an extreme interpretation of the Second Amendment. Maybe they aren't all bought off by the gun lobby.
When it comes to Israel, there is no "shadowy cabal" influencing American policy. American Jews especially have strong feeling about the matter that are authentic and not corrupt. If people have issues with AIPAC, they should make their case without pulling a Trump and promoting fear and hurtful anti-Semitic tropes.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.