“What Peter says about Paul says more about Peter than it does about Paul,” the expression goes.
And so it is with Rep. Ilhan Omar’s attackers.
Many of us knew this all along, but too many powerful Democrats refused to defend her. Some even joined in the attack.
But the latest round of attacks, exemplified by the New York Post’s front page pictorial smear:
Nothing like strip quoting a Muslim woman entirely out of context and juxtaposing it to a photo known to stir up intense anti-Muslim emotions, huh?
Here’s are Omar’s actual words, at a Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) banquet:
Far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen, and frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.
Omar was making a valid point. The acts of the 9/11 terrorists should not jeopardize the civil liberties of all Muslims in America, no matter how heinous those acts may have been. So, saying “some people did something” was implicitly making the point that the details of what those people did are not relevant to the question of whether collective punishment was justified. in this context, it would have made no sense for Omar to describe the actual acts of the 9/11 attackers. Doing so would have detracted from the very valid point she was making.
Now, consider what the NY Post, a Murdoch media outlet like Fox News, was doing. The message is not that Omar left out the details of the 9/11 attacks, but that she did so because she sees them as no big deal. And that she doesn’t care about the 2,977 Americans who died.
The NY Post was not alone, Fox and Friends and Republican politicians joined in as well, according to CBS News.
The bottom line: by strip-quoting Omar in this manner, the NY Post and others deliberately and deceitfully painted her as a Muslim who isn’t terribly bothered by 9/11. In other words, anti-American.
When the attacks on Omar started, they were just kind of sleazy. Likening her questioning the use of money by a lobbying group to an “anti-Semitic trope,” was a crock. Claims of anti-Semitism by AIPAC and other groups were reckless and the scolding by Pelosi, Hoyer and others was pathetic.
But the attack by the NY Post and other right-wingers is entirely different. This is no longer about the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism for political gain. Now it’s about a disgusting and dangerous concerted effort to smear a member of Congress, with full awareness that smear easily could trigger a violent, racist attack against her. It was a reckless dog whistle to the white nationalist crowd.
It’s time to step up the efforts to defend Omar and call out the depravity of her attackers.
Before it’s too late.