House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) issued a troubling defense of embattled Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) when he told The Hill that Omar’s experiences as refugee are more powerful than the experiences of the descendants of Jewish Holocaust survivors.
Omar (pictured above left) is one of the first two Muslim women serving in Congress. She’s also the first Somali-American in Congress.
Clyburn (above right) complained that “media reports surrounding the recent controversy have omitted mentioning that Omar … had to flee [Somalia] to escape violence and spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before coming to the United States,” as The Hill paraphrased.
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“Her experience, Clyburn argued, is much more empirical — and powerful — than that of people who are generations removed from the Holocaust, Japanese internment camps during World War II and the other violent episodes that have marked history,” The Hill reported.
Clyburn told The Hill, “I’m serious about that. There are people who tell me, ‘Well, my parents are Holocaust survivors.’ ‘My parents did this.’ It’s more personal with her.”
“I’ve talked to her, and I can tell you she is living through a lot of pain,” Clyburn declared.
But the congresswoman made her latest round of perceived anti-Semitic comments during an event in Washington, D.C., last week. She accused Jewish Americans of having “allegiance to a foreign country.”
“I want to ask why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA [National Rifle Association], of fossil fuel industries, or Big Pharma — and not talk about a powerful lobbying movement that is influencing policy,” Omar said.
House Democrats and Republicans alike denounced her remarks.
Some even demanded an apology.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who is Jewish and chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on which Omar sits, rebuked her and demanded an apology.
But Omar doubled down on the issue on Monday. She complained in a tweet, “I am told every day that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks.”
I am told everyday that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 3, 2019
House Democrats initially planned to vote on a resolution addressing Omar’s specific remarks and condemning anti-Semitism on Wednesday.
But they ultimately delayed the vote after Omar’s progressive peers protested and rallied around her during a caucus meeting, according to Politico.
Now House Democrats are planning to vote on an updated resolution later on Thursday. House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters the revamped resolution will condemn all forms of hate.
It apparently also will go easier on Omar.
Hoyer said the message will be, “We are against bigotry, we are against prejudice and against hate,” according to CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) addressed Omar’s remarks herself during a press conference on Thursday. When asked if Omar needed to apologize, Pelosi replied, “It’s up to her to explain.”
“But I do not believe that she understood the full weight of the words,” Pelosi argued. “I understand how advocates come in with their enthusiasms. But when you cross that threshold into Congress, your words weigh much more than when you are shouting it at somebody outside.”
“And I feel confident that her words were not based on any anti-Semitic attitude, but that she didn’t have a full appreciation of how they landed on other people, where these words have a history and a cultural impact that may have been unknown to her,” Pelosi added.
But President Donald Trump slammed House Democrats on Wednesday for failing to take a firmer stance against Omar and any anti-Semitism sentiments.
“It is shameful that House Democrats won’t take a stronger stand against anti-Semitism in their conference. Anti-Semitism has fueled atrocities throughout history and it’s inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!” Trump wrote.
It is shameful that House Democrats won’t take a stronger stand against Anti-Semitism in their conference. Anti-Semitism has fueled atrocities throughout history and it’s inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 6, 2019
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