Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Minnesota Congresswoman ILhan Omar did everything but fall on the floor and prostrate herself with profuse mea culpa mea maxima culpas to apologize for her one time intemperate tweets about Jews and Israel. Her apology was in her words “unequivocally.” She went even further and made it clear that the whole episode was a growth and learning experience for her. Yet Trump still demanded that she resign.
Let’s be clear the criticism Omar made of Israel’s polices toward and treatment of Palestinians has been made countless times by legions of groups many of them progressive Jewish groups and certainly from a wide body of Israeli public opinion in Israel for years. Her singling out AIPAC for its outsized political influence on Capitol Hill has been roundly criticized from many circles for years. The misstep Omar made was slipping over the line between singling out Israeli policy and many of the country’s politicians for their hardline actions and inserting the word “Jew” in there. This was an unpardonable no-no and she realized that doing this left her wide open to a detract and deflect campaign by Trump from the core message that Israeli, not Jewish, policy must change.
Now we come to Trump. He latched on to the bash Omar for the usual shameless, repulsive political reasons. She’s a Muslim and she wears a Ha. This makes her the softest of soft targets and someone who instantly ignites fear, loathing, and intense passions among millions of Americans about the alleged ever-present Muslim terror threat in the country and the world.
She’s a political distraction. With the 2018 mid-term election House GOP losses and the possibility of GOP losses in the Senate in 2020, and the always threatening Mueller investigation, Trump badly needs every distraction that he can get. Omar’s wrongly putting “Jews” where it should be “Israeli rightist policy” as the target of criticism fit the bill perfectly for Trump. He got added cover to his distraction ploy when top House Democrats piled on and demanded an apology from Omar.
She’s an immigrant. This is a double plus for Trump. He has feasted from slamming, ridiculing, and slandering immigrants at every turn. In fact, this was one of his major paths to the White House and has been a major weapon that he has welded at every turn in the White House. The ridiculous border wall and holding the federal government and Congress virtual hostage to this inane demand has worked wonders for him in keeping his immigrant panicked base in line. Waving Omar’s name around as an immigrant and a Muslim makes her almost the perfect made in Hollywood casting figure to stoke greater fear and polarization about immigrants and Muslims.
Again, while she did apologize Trump’s call for her resignation is still on the table. So, Omar can turn the table this way. She can ask for Trump to apologize for his naked, crass, and relentless race and immigrant baiting. She can ask him to apologize for his refusal to reveal his taxes, continued personal business dealings in the White House, and his refusal to come clean on his dealing with Russia and how they influenced he presidential election with his connivance.
This, of course, won’t happen. Then the only thing left is for her to heed Trump’s call to resign. Her one and only proviso is that he resign first.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of Why Black Lives Do Matter (Middle Passage Press). He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.