Clyburn defends Omar: Her experiences are more empirical and personal than descendants of Holocaust survivors
I thought the talking point yesterday from Democrats was that there’s “no hierarchy of hurt,” meaning that anti-semitism shouldn’t be specially acknowledged in a House resolution relative to other forms of prejudice. How is that logic different from right-wingers answering claims of “black lives matter” with “all lives matter”? Well, Dems would say, righties were acting in bad faith; they don’t really care about black lives, they were just trying to blunt the force of a meritorious argument about racism against a particular group of Americans.
How are we feeling about that Democratic argument today? You think Ilhan Omar, who was chirping about AIPAC and “the Benjamins” just last month, and all of the members of the Democratic Party who tolerate (or pose for photos with) human garbage like Louis Farrakhan are acting in good faith when they claim, in response to a denunciation of anti-semitism, that there’s “no hierarchy of hurt”?
But I digress. Jim Clyburn is very much *not* on board with the idea that there’s “no hierarchy of hurt.” There is a hierarchy, and former refugee Ilhan Omar apparently sits higher on it than an American Jew whose grandparents were turned into soap by the Nazis.
Clyburn came to Omar’s defense Wednesday, lamenting that many of the media reports surrounding the recent controversy have omitted mentioning that Omar, who was born in Somalia, had to flee the country to escape violence and spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before coming to the United States.
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.
“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,” Clyburn said. “I’ve talked to her, and I can tell you she is living through a lot of pain.”
What did I say yesterday about Omar being graded on a curve for her understanding of American cultural sensitivities even though, in any other context, it would be the rankest prejudice to suggest that she’s not as fully American as everyone else? Here it is, in action, from the third-ranking Democrat in the House. Philip Klein tries to parse the point Clyburn’s making:
The implication is that because Omar fled Somalia she gets a free pass to target another religious minority.
It also in itself is deeply offensive. Remembering the Holocaust, and the oft repeated phrase “Never Again,” is about making sure we’re proactive about combating anti-Semitism before it manifests in ways that lead to mass slaughter.
Not to mention, it isn’t as if anti-Semitism is an abstract problem. Hate crimes against Jews are on the rise.
Correct on all counts, particularly the last point. If you polled Democrats on which religious group they believe is most commonly targeted in hate crimes in America, I bet most would say “Muslims, of course,” starting with Clyburn. Not so. It’s Jews by a wide margin. As for Clyburn’s point about her refugee status, I don’t understand what relevance he thinks that has to any part of this discussion. Is he claiming, as I imagined above, that she doesn’t understand stereotypes about dual loyalty as well as a native-born American would and therefore should be cut some slack? Is he making the point Klein senses, that refugees have had hard lives and shouldn’t have those lives made harder by hassling them about their prejudices (“she is living through a lot of pain”)?
I think he’s making a more basic point: Omar’s refugee background is a reminder that she’s a Victim many times over, in her race, her gender, her religion, and the chaos she endured as a child in Somalia. When you measure her victimhood against that of someone who didn’t experience the Holocaust firsthand, she wins. She’s a gold medalist in the Victim Olympics. Descendants of the Nazis’ extermination campaign are no better than silver, maybe bronze.
And so, you see, there is a hierarchy of hurt and this episode is very much about reordering that hierarchy in a way more suitable to progressive policy. In fact, here’s another telling quote from Clyburn yesterday: “Everybody talks about how diverse this Congress is. This Congress is not diverse; the Democratic Caucus is diverse… We’ve got 53 black people in our caucus. How many Muslims do you think are in their caucus?” It is … interesting that he thinks political space needs to be cleared for dual-loyalty smears aimed at supporters of the Jewish state just because his caucus contains a handful of Muslim members, but that’s the implication. And it’s unfair to Muslims inasmuch as it lets off the hook all the non-Muslim progressive trash in the Dems’ freshmen crop who have spun hard for Omar over the last 72 hours. This isn’t about accommodating Muslim or refugee sensibilities in the newly diverse Democratic caucus, it’s about young progressives wanting to steer the party and eventually the country towards a stance more hostile to Israel and viewing this episode with Omar as an early battle towards that end. By defending Omar and defeating a resolution aimed at her, they’re able to flex their muscle and show Pelosi that the fight over the direction of U.S.-Israel policy is on and anti-semitism will be no bar to it.
And that’s the most important point in all this. Klein is right again:
She was reprimanded for her AIPAC and “Benjamins” comment and her progressive colleagues basically looked the other way. Once she doubled down on anti-semitism with the dual-loyalty point, though, and a more severe reprimand loomed, that’s when they went to the mat for her and started muscling Pelosi. They’re rewarding her for sticking to her guns on anti-Jewish stereotypes. In which direction does that political incentive point?
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