Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has been making news, most recently with a series of tweets that has raised controversy even among Democrats.
A newly elected member of Congress, Omar is a Muslim woman who is the first Somali-American member of Congress. In a number of social media posts yesterday, Omar made a number of statements that many felt to be anti-Semitic. For example, she said that the reason that the United States supported Israel was because “It’s all about the Benjamins”, implying that Israeli money bought influence and reinforcing stereotypes about ‘Jewish money’. As she spent the day defending things she said, she only seemed to make things worse. So much so that CNN on-air personality Jake Tapper and even Chelsea Clinton called her out for what they viewed as her anti-Semitic, racist remarks.
Some of the things she said maybe weren’t as ‘over the top’ as Republicans suggested when they responded. However, what was evident was her hatred of Israel. After defending her remarks in repeated posts on social media, Omar later apologized.
Unfortunately, there is a related background to the story. Omar was elected from Minnesota’s reliably liberal 5th Congressional district, replacing Keith Ellison who left Congress to run unsuccessfully for Attorney General in the state. You may recall, Ellison also came under fire for his past association with and work that he did for the vehemently anti-Semitic Nation of Islam, led by Louis Farrakhan.
One hopes that this isn’t a pattern for representation for that district. Unfortunately, after roughly one month in office, Omar is making people wonder.