Hirono of Hawaii Defends Fellow Democrat Omar, Accuses GOP of ‘Hate Speech’

Senator backed freshman congresswoman by labeling Trump and Republicans as racists

Image Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) defended embattled Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) against charges of anti-Semitism and instead accused her Republican colleagues of uttering “a lot of hate speech.”

MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt asked Hirono (pictured above) about Omar’s latest controversy during an interview on Sunday.

Hunt wanted to know the senator’s thoughts on the “divisions that have unfolded over the past week” among Democrats.

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“Do you believe [Omar’s] comments were anti-Semitic?” Hunt asked Hirono.

The senator replied, “I don’t think she intended her comments to be anti-Semitic.”

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Omar’s comments weren’t anti-Semitic, according to Hirono, because “we’re in an environment now where just about everything we say can be viewed in a certain way.”

Omar recently came under fire again for making more comments widely viewed as anti-Semitic.

She is one of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress. Omar is also the first Somali-American in Congress.

She tweeted in 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world” — and urged Allah to “awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

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Omar also faced accusations of using “anti-Semitic tropes” in February when she suggested on Twitter that money from pro-Israel lobbyists drove Republican support for — and the defense of — Israel.

She apologized for those remarks.

The freshman congresswoman again fielded bipartisan backlash for perceived anti-Semitic comments she made during an event more than a week ago. She accused Jewish Americans of harboring an “allegiance to a foreign country.”

But this time, Omar doubled down and did not apologize.

Related: Meghan McCain Fires Back After Ilhan Omar Retweets a Mocking Message About Her Father

House Democrats originally were supposed to vote on a resolution last week rebuking Omar and condemning anti-Semitism, specifically.

But after Omar’s progressive defenders protested those plans, Democrats scrapped the old resolution for a new one broadly condemning all hatred and bigotry.

That resolution passed overwhelmingly in the House.

Hirono, however, didn’t seem concerned about Omar’s rhetoric at all. The senator instead deflected the blame and accused President Donald Trump and Republicans of being the truly intolerant and bigoted ones.

“What we have is a lot of hate speech against immigrants, against Muslims, against all kinds of people,” Hirono declared. “We certainly are hearing a lot of hate speech from the Republicans and the Right.”

“And for them to suddenly rear up on their hind legs and go after one person, I think we should be looking at ourselves and saying we have an environment now where basically President Trump in his campaign really exposed a lot of the divisiveness and issues in our country that we’ve never faced up to — including racism, including anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ,” Hirono claimed.

“And these are all areas we need to face as a country.”

Check out more in the video below:

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