Although it’s easy to slot Fox News’ bigoted attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar as bigotry against a woman of color, and they are exactly that, let’s not lose sight of how they fit into a larger picture of right-wing aggression against Democrats and the left, as a whole.
In my last post, I noted that Fox has been waging a smear campaign against Omar to paint her as anti-American. They have also painted her as anti-Semitic but lately, the focus has been on “She sides with Muslims over America.” It’s the same trope they used on President Barack Obama. The only difference, as far as I can tell, is that Omar is a real Muslim and, of course, a woman.
But it’s just as bogus a smear. Fox’s latest excuse is some comments Omar made about 9/11. She was clearly talking about the anti-Muslim discrimination that ensued but Fox took a line out of context and misrepresented it in order to start accusing her of trivializing 9/11 and thus hating America.
As I wrote in my last post, this is shades of Dr. George Tiller, the abortion provider who was assassinated after years of being scapegoated by Bill O’Reilly.
But just as “Tiller the baby killer” was framed as the face of abortion, Omar is being framed as the face of Democrats. In Jeanine Pirro’s now-infamous attack on Omar’s hijab as “antithetical to the United States Constitution,” Pirro explicitly tied Omar’s alleged anti-Americanism to Democrats:
PIRRO: Why the disdain for the government of the country that saved you and your family after you lived in a tent in Kenya for four years? Why the scorn? And as the Democrats scramble to forgive, rationalize and give a pass to a freshman in Congress, the joke is on you, Nancy [Pelosi].
The same attack was made on the April 10 Lou Dobbs Tonight as part of the fabricated 9/11 poutrage. After Dobbs told guest Tammy Bruce (a Fox News contributor), Omar “sounds like she hates America,” Bruce opined that it should be “a test” for Democrats “to speak to their leadership to say enough is enough. … It's astounding that anyone in Congress has spoken in this fashion. But to have her be elevated especially on that kind of a panel should disturb all of us, about foreign relations, the nature of how this country is viewed and is reflected around world.”
Translation: Fox will be suggesting that Democrats have the same supposedly anti-American views as Omar if they don’t condemn her.
That point was made more explicitly the next night on Lou Dobbs Tonight via guest Lynette Hardaway, the “Diamond” of “Diamond and Silk.”
“DIAMOND”: I think it's disgusting. Anybody that can defend [Omar's] tasteless and disrespectful words and quotes that she said. You know, she is proven to be anti-American, anti-Jewish people. I don't even think she does even deserves to be in our Congress, and anybody that defends her, they don't deserve to be in our Congress either. …
Tucker Carlson joined the effort. He made a point of calling Omar “a national star” in the media and in the Democratic Party. A banner on the screen read, “THE LEFT RALLIES AROUND ILHAN OMAR.”
Around this same time, Trump began ratcheting up his accusations that Democrats are traitors. Now, I have no idea if Trump and Trump TV have been colluding or whether these spates of attacks are just coincidentally synergistic. But there is no doubt that while, sure, Fox will smear Omar just for the sake of it, the network also has its eye on the larger prize of using her to Swiftboat the rest of the left and anyone else not sufficiently loyal to Dear Leader Trump. And since we know Donald Trump's most trusted advisors are his Fox Friends, you can rest assured he'll be a part of this very pernicious and dangerous war on his opposition.
So if you can’t bring yourself to defend Omar for her own sake, do it because, as my friend Karoli, at Crooks and Liars noted (quoting me!), an attack on Omar is an attack on us all. She also posted a clip from AM Joy this morning that drives home the need for us all to make a stand against this bigotry right now.
Watch it below, via Crooks and Liars.
(Carlson image via screen grab)
Keith Ellison checks off every box except sex. Black? Check. First Muslim elected to Congress? Check. Democrat? What else? Yet he’s not the lightening rod drawing so much hate from the right as Omar and Tlaib.
The difference is the politicians’ points of view. We’ve all seen Ellison interviewed and unless someone points it out you’d never know his religion.
Religion and cultural identity partially (largely) rooted in it drive the politics of Omar and Tlaib. Tlaib’s parents are Palestinian refugees. Omar is a Somali refugee. There problem isn’t being Muslim but, because of their roots, being decidedly pro-Palestinian in a big way in a nation where Palestinian-Americans are such a tiny sliver of demographics they hardly register. 250,000 would be a high estimate. One survey found less than 100,000. This in a nation with an overwhelming Judeo-Christian tradition.
As we all know, America has always been pro-Israel no matter how much we pretended to be a fair peace broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now in an era of Trump the Republican Party has gone unabashedly in favor of Israel, a pox on the Palestinians.
IMHO Omar and Tlaib relish their lightening rod status and are going all out to make inflammatory statements to bring attention to their cause. Fox News is enjoying the moment to demonize the pair to call out how far the Democratic Party has moved from the mainstream. And, at the risk at pissing off the liberals here, I predict if the pair don’t learn some self-restraint and become more politically savvy in promoting their causes they will trash the Democratic Party. Even if they remain safe in their own districts do they really want to be powerless in a House minority?