Progressive Anti-Semitism: The Triumph of Evil?

Representative Omar
Photo by Johnathan Ernst / Reuters

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is at it again. The latest uproar was sparked by her use of a standard anti-semitic slur in which she complained about the supposed “dual loyalty” of American Jews. Previously, she alleged that American supporters of Israel were bought off. “It’s all about the Benjamins” she said. Representative Rashida Tlaib has said much the same thing. 


Nor to be out done, Alexandria Ortega-Cortez has been communing with Jeremy Corbyn, Britain’s labor leader. Corbyn, who makes Bernie Sanders look like a moderate, has long been associated with anti-Semitic groups. Among his more odious associations was membership in a facebook group called “Palestine Live” that trafficked in Holocaust denial; charges that the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. were the work of Israel; conspiracy theories about the Rothschild family and Jews controlling the banks.  Britain’s “Telegraph” reports that Corbyn has “…hosted, promoted and vigorously defended vicious anti-Semites and racists.” Not to put too fine a point on it, he has received funding for trips to the Mid-East from Hamas, the terror group. For her part, Corbyn’s fellow traveling friend Alexandria Ortega-Cortez continues to insist that she is just showing solidarity with the Palestinian people. 

At this stage of the game, why don’t we just call this what it is—anti-Semitism—and stop inventing euphemisms to pretend it’s something else. 

There are a couple of reasons (actually excuses) offered for this, so let’s consider some of the more common ones. 

First, denial, denial denial. The argument is that anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-Semitism. But nobody this side of sanity says that Israel is, or should be immune from criticism. That is just knocking down a straw man. The fact is anti-Semites use anti-Zionism as slightly veiled code for anti-Semitism. That this is the case should be obvious when you consider that the various critiques lobbed in Israel’s direction never seem to apply to Hamas, Iran or “Palestine”. Note that Palestine is in quotes because it is not, and never has been, a nation-state, despite all the propaganda. 

Second, the Democratic Leadership has to soft-pedal its concern with the anti-Semitic remarks routinely made by back-benchers for the sake of party unity. That was a pretty nauseating argument back when when the Southern Democratic Party of Jim Crow had to be accommodated for the sake of party unity. It’s hard to understand why it’s OK now—unless you agree with the back-benchers. And therein lies the rub.

The evidence suggests that a substantial portion of the Progressive base does harbor anti-Semitic biases, which are being exploited by the die-hard anti-Semites who mean to move the agenda forward. The technique is well-worn. Step one is to throw out some outrageous comment, and then walk it back—kind of—with a non-apology apology. The speaker didn’t realize the implications of what she was saying, the remark was taken out of context etc. etc. Slowly but surely the outrageous gets normalized.  Donald Trump isn’t the only one who plays this game. 

Once we start down this road, the small exception becomes the rule, sometimes with amazing rapidity.  For example: Remember when abortion was going to be “safe, legal and rare” ? So where are we now? In some states, we have abortion on demand, up to the moment of birth, and sometimes after. Which is to say, infanticide. Remember when welfare was supposed to be “a helping hand, not a handout”? Alexandria Ortega-Cortez wants to subsidize people who say they don’t want to work. Remember “Don’t ask, don’t tell”? Now we have a court mandated liberty right to same-sex marriage. And just today, the Democratic House voted to support state and local governments whose policies support voting in federal elections by illegal aliens. The list goes on. 

So we must ask: why is it that a freshman backbencher is treated with kid gloves while she continues to broadcast vile and vicious slurs? For the credulous, for lefty ideologues, for believers in identity politics, and for intersectionality naifs, Omar speaks with moral authority. Truthfulness does not matter; what matters is “her truth”.  Because she is a woman of color and a Muslim she is to accorded deference, even when, especially when, she goes on the attack. Because she has achieved—and achieved is the right word—victim status. In the minds of progressives, that status lends her credence as a voice representing the oppressed as they confront their oppressors. In that category, Jews and the state of Israel, are at the top of the list.  

And let us pay special attention to her status as a Muslim. Why is it that being a Muslim gives her special credibility? It is precisely because Omar is Muslim in name only. How long would she be in the Democratic caucus if she opposed abortion rights, as does Islam. How about if she opposed the LGBT agenda? Last I checked gays were being tossed off roofs in Saudi Arabia simply because they are (or were) gay. Her self-identification as Muslim works as a political symbol of oppression. It has little or nothing to do with the particulars of the Islamic faith. (In fairness, the same might be said of prominent Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, assisted suicide and same sex marriage.)  Religious identification most likely serves a political purpose. As long as politicians are busy undermining traditional religious values they are just fine with the social justice warriors. 

Which, in part, is why Speaker Pelosi and the House Democratic Leadership are so easily cowed by Omar, Ortega-Cortez and Tlaib. They are afraid that Omar and Co will bring the social justice warriors down on their heads. The leadership needs the votes of the hard left of the caucus to accomplish anything, especially the ultimate goal of taking down Donald Trump. So with that goal in mind, given the political dynamics, the Democratic leadership will accommodate their caucus radicals and anti-Semites. Speaker Pelosi, for instance, has already asserted (against a mountain of evidence to the contrary) that Omar’s “dual loyalty” charge was “not intentionally anti-Semitic”. 

Not only that, the House leadership watered down a resolution condemning Omar’s remarks to a general (and meaningless) resolution against a long list of the usual “isms” thereby allowing Omar to achieve a legislative victory of sorts, even though she started off as the focus of the atrocious behavior. The most charitable thing you can say about the Democratic House leadership is that they themselves are not anti-Semites; they are merely cowards. “Some of my best friends…”.

Which brings to mind Edmund Burke, who said “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. 

He was right then. It is still true today. Speaker Pelosi, take note.


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