One of the newest and most diverse(TM) senators from Minnesota has gotten herself in hot water for asking why democrats care tremendously about political and economic interference of the oil, pharmaceutical, banking, and firearm companies, but not about certain nations.
You might be tempted to object “but what about Russia?” and you’d be right. Although such claims have been unsubstantiated in what may very well be the longest wild goose chase in American political history, they at least project an affect of care about such things.
And imagine how much more serious the democratic concerns about Russian interference would be if, for example, President Trump held dual-citizenship: one bearing the stamp of D.C., the other, that of the Kremlin. If such were the case, then there would be substance to the Democrat suspicion of Trump’s loyalty and relation to Russia, even in spite of the latest Cohen testimony, and the two years of insubstantiation which preceded that particular bit of nothing. If a president, or a judge, or a law-maker, held dual-citizenship — with any country — it would be reason enough for reasonable people not to trust their loyalty.
As previously mentioned, representative Ilhan Omar is herself not an American, and yet has been elected into a law-making position. This, in my estimation, is a problem. To say that I do not support Ilhan Omar would an understatement. But an enemy can still be correct, and what representative Omar has gotten into hot water over seems both preposterous and ironic in the extreme.
Over the last month, Omar has criticized her fellow law-makers — on both sides of the aisle — for demonstrating a kind of dual-loyalty to Israel. In one example, she tweeted:
I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.
As far as I can tell, all of her comments on the subject more or less follow this theme. American politicians seem like servants of AIPAC, or at the very least, treat Israel and its interests as uniquely protected, relative to other nations and even to America itself.
And oh, the heat. Omar was accused by everyone — left, right, and center — of “antisemitism”… which, upon closer examination, was specifically a charge of repeating “antisemitic tropes.” In other words, Omar said things that antisemites often say, but that is critically not identical with actually making an antisemitic statement. Consider the following hypothetical examples:
Hadolf Itler (or some other actual anti-semite): I love my people, and care about them more than any other nation. It is for this reason that the dirty Jewish rats must be removed from our lands or destroyed.
Joe Schmoe (R – Ohio, or someone who isn’t actually antisemitic): I love my people, and care about them more than any other nation, including Israel, and that’s why I’m concerned about my fellow law-makers receiving billions of dollars from Israel and Russia. I’m afraid the integrity of our Democratic Republic is being compromised by outside forces.
One could accurately say that Joe Schmoe’s opening comment is an “antisemitic trope” because it is something said by antisemites, and which can be associated with antisemitism generally. And yet, this conclusion is obviously absurd.
And yet, this very logic seems be the basis for the charges laid against Ilhan Omar’s “antisemitism.”
Pelosi and other Democratic Senate leaders said:
Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share. But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.
“We support free speech, except when we don’t.”
This bit from the New York Post’s piece more or less clarifies the “trope” basis for the charge:
In response, Lowey insisted that “no member of Congress is asked to swear allegiance to another country.”
“Throughout history, Jews have been accused of dual loyalty, leading to discrimination and violence,” Lowey added. “Which is why these accusations are so hurtful.”
Autistic literalism about “swearing allegiance” aside, both of these statements completely ignore the truth of Ilhan Omar’s claim, and seem to imply that they are obviously false merely due to the prevalence of that kind of claim. What, exactly, is the relationship between our law-makers and AIPAC? Does Israel have an undue influence on American politics? Such a claim wouldn’t exactly make Israel special. Even if all of the worst claims made by democrats about Russia were true, Saudi Arabia would still be the bigger meddler in American political affairs.
But, I find it strange that representative Nita Lowey would imply that dual-allegiance is not an issue in Congress, given the 40 law-makers who, in fact, hold dual-allegiances with Israel, whether they were “asked to swear allegiance” or not:
Oh, is that you on the list, Representative Lowey? Well, imagine my shock.
It gets better. From Lowey’s website (emphasis mine):
FBI Director James Comey today confirmed the Bureau is investigating Russian interference in our election and links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Director Comey also confirmed the FBI had ‘no information’ to support President Trump’s baseless accusation that President Obama wiretapped him.
This investigation is essential to our national security and to the integrity of our democracy. It must be fair, independent, and comprehensive because the American people deserve nothing less than the whole truth about Russian sabotage and Russian ties to President Trump. I renew my call for an independent commission to investigate and present all of the facts to the people of the United States.
There are two possibilities here. Either Lowey — and every other Jewish Democrat who has hounded Trump about Russia — is a raging anti-Russian racist, appealing as they are to a “trope” going back several decades about Russians (I’m sure we could find evidence of people calling Russians untrustworthy for centuries beyond the Cold War, if we really wanted to play the bullshit guilt-trip game), or the basis for “anti-semitism” based in “tropes” being used against Ilhan Omar is complete and utter nonsense.
If we want to get technical, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but I’m willing to assume it’s simply the latter.
I don’t understand why on earth we allow people with dual-citizenships to run for elected office. It’s not as if we’re short on people, and in a large organization like the American government, the incentives weighing against place-holder inviduals in an office are more politically powerful (in the aggregate) than the personal qualifications of the individuals themselves. In a discreet election, it is conceivable that a childless dual-citizen who is not religiously aligned with his constituency might somehow be a better elected official than a parent with singular national loyalty and who shares the values of his people. But the odds of this being the case — even when all the facts are known (and when are they?) — is extremely slim. And on a broader scale, the accumulation of these “individual exceptions” can add up to a complete separation between the interests of the people and the interests of the government ostensibly elected to represent them.
This is why the Constitution has heuristic rules about age, time as a citizen, residency, etc, which restrict eligibility for elected office. One wonders if perhaps the founders did not go far enough in those heuristic limitations.
So non-American Representative Ilhan Omar’s implied question stands: what exactly is the relationship between Israel and America’s political system? Does AIPAC have an influence comparable to the NRA, or Monsanto? Does the fact that it’s foreign (unlike the NRA or Monsanto) make that influence worse?
And perhaps most importantly, why does anyone who asks this question get called “antisemitic?” Saying that ‘the accusation of dual-loyalty is an old trope’ does no good as a defense if the dual-loyalty is demonstrable. Indeed, citizenship — though irrefutable proof of dual-loyalty — may not even be necessary to hold dual-loyalty in one’s heart:
Or perhaps he does have principles. Very, very predictable principles, in fact.
The real question is, if they lean in too far, might the stirring and bleary-eyed public begin to wonder if maybe not only the current claims of antisemitism are exaggerated, but perhaps instances in the past were too?