Sixteen thoughts about Ilhan Omar and anti-Semitism


I think:

• Anti-Semitism is wicked.

• That one can criticize the government of Israel without being anti-Semitic.

• That there are many people who try to conflate the two. (See: Senator Marco Rubio as he tries to pass a bill that would punish people for BDS boycotts.)

• That many of those people would be delighted to cast one of the few Muslims in Congress as an anti-Semite.

• That that’s not a reason not to criticize a member of Congress if she’s in the wrong.

• That accusations of “dual loyalty” have long been used by anti-Semites against Jews.

• That what Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said…

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

…sounds very much like those old dual loyalty accusations.

• That many people who, broadly, share my politics, have parsed her words to mean something other than “Jews in America are practicing dual loyalty.”

• That they might be right, but that an awful lot of energy is going to parsing instead of accepting what appears to be a plain explanation of Omar’s words.

• That I don’t want Ilhan Omar to be an anti-Semite, and that has made it difficult for me to analyze all of this. I want her to be naive instead of evil.

• But that if a person is elected to Congress, they should be educated enough to undertand the tropes of anti-Semitism and give them wide berth.

• That Omar didn’t give the tropes wide berth, and because of previous controversies, probably doesn’t deserve a full benefit of the doubt.

• Which means she’s in the wrong.

• That we tribalistic humans very good at hearing the “other side’s” dog whistles and poor at perceiving when they get used by our friends.

• That we should nonetheless hold our own to the same standards.

• Otherwise, they’re not standards. They’re just rules you make for other people.

Author: joeldermole

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife and son. He spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His honors include awards for best online commentary from the Online News Association and (twice) from the City and Regional Magazine Association.

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