House Passes Anti-Semitism and Bigotry Resolution

It’s times like these that call for the wit and wisdom of Charles Pierce at Esquire. Ilhan Omar Prompted Democrats to Pass an Anti-Semitism Resolution That Puts Republicans in a Corner:

The outrage, manufactured and/or inflated, over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s remarks concerning the influence of lobbyists on behalf of Israel has been a prime performative opportunity for Republican legislators, and for pundits whom the makeup of the new House of Representatives makes nervous. (Bret Stephens of The New York Times seems exercised enough to provide us with an episode of Bad Analogy Theater.) For a moment, it looked like the Democratic majority in the House was ready to capitulate to the kabuki on display. There was a spate of stories about Democratic legislators yelling at each other, which, of course, means Everything Is Falling Apart (!).

There has been a plethora of concern troll media villagers writing their favorite “Dems divided” meme in recent weeks, because it’s easier to recycle their old flawed analysis than to do actual reporting. Lazy concern troll media villagers will never give up this meme (you know who you are). Every Democrat voted for this resolution, even those who expressed reservations.

On Thursday, a resolution did appear, and it was a helluva nice little maneuver on the majority’s part. From The Hill:

Condemning anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values and aspirations that define the people of the United States and condemning anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contrary to the values and aspirations of the United States.

I am happy that it came out this way. I am happy with every Democrat who raised holy hell over the original idea for the resolution. I mean, Jesus, the Republicans took off after Omar—and fellow rookie Rashida Tialib—because they were Muslim and because they were women. There was fauxtrage about Tialib calling the president* a motherfcker, which is untrue only in the most literal sense. When Omar was first appointed to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she was all but called an ISIS spy by the usual suspects, and that’s before she ever said a word about double allegiance or whatever else has prompted her current elevation to right-wing pincushion.

This new resolution is not only closer to the truth of everything, but also puts the Republicans in a put-up-or-shut-up position, and that’s not a place the party of Steve King and “shithole countries” [Trump] ever wants to be.

And let’s not forget that the conservative media entertainment complex has for years built an entire cottage industry around demonizing Jewish billionaire George Soros who supports small “d” democratic and progressive causes around the world. Last October, Soros was a target of Cesar Sayok, the Florida mail bomber as a result of this campaign of demonization. ‘Dripping with poison of antisemitism’: the demonization of George Soros:

As investigators seek answers in the case of mail bombs sent to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and others, there will be no shortage of evidence regarding the first target, the billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

The bomb maker’s motivations remain unknown. What is clear is that the attempted attack comes as the demonization of Soros in the US, previously limited to fringe groups on the far right, has reached new heights. More recently it has been taken up by the most senior Republican politicians in the country, up to and including the president.

Experts worry it is a sign that taboos on public antisemitism have all but disappeared. Indeed Soros’s son, Alexander Soros, said in an op-ed on Wednesday that many attacks on his father over the years have been “dripping with the poison of anti-semitism”.

Earlier this month, Donald Trump repeated the familiar accusation that Soros pays for protesters, when he said that the “elevator screamers”– protesters who were confronting senators over their votes for Brett Kavanaugh, the then-nominee to the supreme court – had their signs “paid for by Soros and others”.

* * *

From the racist white nationalist site the Daily Stormer to major conservative media stars, the right has been increasingly united over the last decade in seeing the hidden hand of Soros, whom they frequently describe as a “globalist”, in all manner of events.

He has been falsely accused by the right of orchestrating alleged violence from so-called “antifa” groups, manipulating the world economy, being a wartime Nazi collaborator and sponsoring the entirely fictional project of “white genocide”.

Figures like Alex Jones imagine Soros as the manipulative mastermind of a vast “globalist” conspiracy that seeks to restore the world to elite control, kill millions and reduce humanity to slavery.

Breitbart has published scores of articles on Soros’s alleged influence. Talkshow host Michael Savage has told his 11m daily listeners that Soros should be arrested and the groups he sponsors investigated by Congress. Earlier this year Fox News’ Tucker Carlson accused Soros of hating the United States, and on Monday night he laughed when a guest brought up the pipe bomb sent to Soros’s house.

Politicians have adopted the rhetoric. The Trump-aligned Florida congressman Matt Gaetz tweeted the suggestion that Soros might be paying money to Honduran immigrants to “join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time”. This suggestion was uncomfortably close to the white nationalist “white genocide” narrative that accuses Jews of orchestrating the demographic replacement of white Americans.

In a tweet last October, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote that “we cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th. #MAGA.” McCarthy rebuffs accusations of anti-Semitism in deleted tweet about Soros, Steyer and Bloomberg:

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The tweet included a video featuring McCarthy discussing George Soros, Tom Steyer and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, all Jewish men who are significant donors to Democratic campaigns and causes.

It invoked a stereotype about the Jewish faith that has long been considered to be an anti-Semitic dog whistle popular among the alt-right, and it’s a tactic that the president himself was accused of employing in his 2016 campaign.

* * *

Soros has been portrayed by conservatives as a liberal boogeyman and has been the subject of multiple conspiracy theories that follow the general premise of paying to influence elections. Steyer, a wealthy philanthropist, recently declined a run for president in 2020 so he could focus on his efforts to impeach Trump. And Bloomberg is a converted Democrat who is mulling his own presidential bid.

McCarthy’s tweet in October came the same week that Soros and Steyer received pipe bombs in the mail as part of a broader scheme targeting prominent Democrats, and the tweet was deleted days before a gunman killed 11 worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

But we all know the media’s rule: IOKIYAR. “This had nothing to do about faith, it had to do about party and the campaign,” McCarthy rebutted. So the media immediately dropped it and this story disappeared down the memory hole, because IOKIYAR.

The conservative media entertainment complex has also built an entire cottage industry around Islamophobia and anti-Muslim demonization. Anti-Muslim Islamophobes Pamela Geller, David Horowitz and Frank Gaffney Jr. have been regulars on Fox News and other conservative news outlets since 9/11. Their extremist views are shared by National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who “have deep and extensive ties to an organized group of anti-Muslim writers and activists known as the “counter-jihad.’” See, How John Bolton and Mike Pompeo mainstreamed Islamophobia.

To underscore this point, “The FBI is looking into a threat against U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar that was scrawled on a bathroom stall in Rogers, MN and posted on social media. FBI looking into graffiti death threat against U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar. There was also the poster falsely linking Rep. Ilhan Omar to the 9/11 terrorist attack at a GOP event in West Virginia. Poster connecting Ilhan Omar to 9/11 sets off furor in West Virginia State Capitol. “It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the poster, which came on a day of events called “WVGOP Day” sponsored by the state’s Republican Party.”

This is why the anti-Semitism resolution Congress voted on was expanded to include anti-Muslim bigotry and white supremacy (Charlottesville). “I see everything as an opportunity,” Speaker Pelosi told reporters Thursday morning as she announced the vote. “This is an opportunity once again to declare as strongly as possible opposition to anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim statements” and “white supremacist attitudes.”

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post explains what happened next. Republicans manage to get Democrats out of a jam — by showing the GOP’s true colors (excerpt):

Then things got really weird. The voting began, and Republicans started voting “no” — on a declaration condemning hate. No, really. Republican dissenters included a member of the House leadership (Rep. Liz Cheney) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), who fancies himself a friend of Israel, as well as veteran crackpots such as Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.). Once more, Republicans snatched back the mantle of racial and religious insensitivity, announcing to the world that they couldn’t possibly be against both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Twenty-three Republicans voted no.

Republicans have become intellectually corrupted and morally perverse under a president they have never voted to condemn. There remains a significant batch of Republicans — not one or two — who feel queasy about condemning hate groups, or in this case condemning President Trump’s Charlottesville remarks (which were also referenced).

Pelosi had just been trying to disband the circular firing squad and get back to business (e.g., voting on the Democrats’ massive ethics bill). Maybe she knew Republicans would blow themselves up once again. Maybe she got lucky.

* * *

Republicans have learned nothing, it seems. They are incapable of condemning their party’s leader — or heaven forbid, dumping him! — and remain frightened if not in agreement with the xenophobic, white-grievance crowd, which equates condemning bigotry with “political correctness.” (Whites are the victims, gosh darn it!)

Politics is about choices. Democrats did not have a shining moment, but at least they figured out that tolerating anti-Semitism and excuse-mongering for anti-Semitism is reprehensible. Republicans just reminded us of who they are.

The 23 Republicans who voted “no” on the resolution. Arizona congressmen Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, doing Arizona proud again — not!

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