Saturday, April 1, 2023
April 1, 2023

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Harrop: Republicans do Dems a favor


Democrats loudly complained when Republicans threw Rep. Ilhan Omar off the Foreign Affairs Committee. But they should have thanked them, at least quietly.

Omar is a problematic presence.

The right knows that, which is why Fox News flashes pictures of her in a hijab, seemingly by the half-hour.

It is true that Omar’s left-wing views and Muslim head covering have led to bigoted remarks and threats.

It is also true, however, that she is obnoxious.

And her unpleasantness goes beyond some vulgar antisemitic comments, for which a protective press notes “she has apologized.”

Nor is it entirely her outsized hostility toward Israel.

It’s the ugly undercurrent of anti-Americanism. Omar’s critiques seem especially grating coming from a Somali refugee whose family obtained asylum in the U.S., went on to earn a college degree and now represents a Minneapolis-area district in Congress.

Was the America she encountered on landing in New York City the suburban paradise portrayed in the orientation films for new immigrants? Surely not, but given the hellscape she was plucked from, it was unseemly to gripe to her father, “This doesn’t look like the America you promised.”

Worse, she didn’t have the sense to keep that sulk to herself.

Yes, this is a flawed country, like all countries, but a grant of asylum does not come with an American Express Platinum Card.

Thousands of migrants are beating at the border and willing to do the hardest jobs. And Americans here for generations don’t necessarily get a shot at college, much less live in the cushy utopia she resents not having been handed to her.

Omar’s lowest point may have been her remark about the 9/11 attacks that “some people did something.” That quote has been taken somewhat out of context, but it was undeniably meant to gloss over the pertinent fact that the terrorist outrage was performed by followers of radical Islam.

The above is why several congressional Democrats were also wary about putting her on the committee responsible for overseeing international relations.

Ignoring that reality, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another gift to Fox News, hammed it up on the House floor, veins popping and hands waving, as she hollered that keeping Omar off the committee was meant to target “women of color.”

Most everyone knows it’s not about that. Women of color sit on committees. Some are Republicans.

But what about the feral wing of the Republican Party? Omar is not bonkers on the level of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. MTG peddled the conspiracy theory that 9/11 didn’t happen, but nonetheless was given a seat on — let’s brace — the House Committee on Homeland Security. And who can forget her ravings about the Rothschilds and Jewish space lasers?

But saying crazy, outrageous things has become part of the Republican brand. Democrats did surprisingly well in midterms precisely because they didn’t come off as lunatics.

Omar’s district is deep blue, but even there, she has lost support.

In the 2022 Democratic primary, she barely won renomination, squeaking in with only 50.3 percent of the vote.

Those who want to “understand” Omar and her struggles can certainly persevere. There’s no question that she’s been subject to bruising remarks about her religion and appearance.

But lots of Americans have suffered greater indignities than she has. South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn grew up in the jaws of Jim Crow and was thrown in jail during a civil rights demonstration. He doesn’t whine. He works toward political goals, which is to keep Democrats in power.

Those who feel as Clyburn does should not want Omar as the face of their party.

Republicans have done Democrats a favor, and, one suspects, many Democrats know that.