Lost amid the chaos of the mainstream media smearing a bunch of high school kids without bothering to look at extended, exculpatory video, or seeking out the boys’ story, was another troubling piece of footage from this weekend. This video, a brief interview with freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not go viral. But it probably should have, and Ocasio-Cortez needs to be pressed for an explanation.
In the video below, which was tweeted out by The Hill, AOC, while participating the Women’s March is asked about the allegations of anti-Semitism against the organization. When asked what she would tell someone with such concerns, she says that “…first of all, right now in this moment, in the United States we have to center this conversation, I think that concerns of anti-Semitism with the current administration in the White House are absolutely valid and we need to make sure we are protecting the Jewish community and all those who feel vulnerable in this moment.” Wait…What?
— The Hill (@thehill) January 19, 2019
This allegation is so out of left field that one almost has to watch the video more than once to believe it. It’s bad enough that she does nothing to actually address––or even acknowledge––the existence of anti-Semitism in the Women’s March, that’s par for the course. But to refuse to talk about the flaws of her own movement while simultaneously making a baseless accusation about the White House is more than strange, it’s also extremely troubling.
Let’s be clear: for a sitting congresswoman to charge not only the president, but his entire administration, with anti-Semitism is a very big deal. Frankly, if AOC really believes this is true, and that Trump puts vulnerable Jewish communities at risk with his bigotry, why isn’t she talking about it more? If this is a serious allegation, and not merely a deflection, what are the examples of the administration’s anti-Semitism?
President Trump’s own daughter is Jewish, he moved the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem after decades of promises, leading other nations to follow our example. Aside from an off-color joke from decades ago about who he likes counting his money, the president has engaged in no anti-Semitic rhetoric. So, what on earth is Ocasio-Cortez talking about?
Just last weekend her fellow freshman congresswoman Ilhan Omar similarly baselessly accused Senator Lindsey Graham of being blackmailed by the Trump administration. When anchors on CNN pushed back on the allegation, it completely fell apart and Omar admitted it was just an opinion she holds based on things visible to her, whatever that means.
As I wrote last week, these fake charges of corruption and bigotry matter because the millions of Americans who support these women, for perfectly rational reasons of politics, will believe them when they say these outlandish unproven things.
This, of course, is where the news media is supposed to clarify things. In Omar’s case, CNN’s anchors did so. That needs to happen with Ocasio-Cortez’s comments as well. In the unlikely event that a journalist with access to an interview with AOC asks her what she is specifically talking about, we can guess what she might say.
It will likely be some explanation of systemic racism and a Trump administration that stokes ethic and religion divisions that are bad for all people, which includes Jews. Such an answer would obviously be insufficient. Because that isn’t what anti-Semitism, a global and historic phenomenon, is. When you accuse somebody of anti-Semitism, they deserve to be told exactly what you mean––which actions, speech, or beliefs are being referred to.
It truly is telling that the mainstream media chose to spend the last two days parsing and damning the facial expression of a teenager just because he was wearing a hat they don’t like, instead of asking a sitting member of Congress to justify her extremely serious allegation against the sitting president.
Conservatives have been criticized in recent month for not taking Ocasio-Cortez seriously enough; the congresswoman herself levels this charge often. Well, many of us do take her very seriously. It is clear that she has amassed not just the power of her elected office, but also a major megaphone in our political discourse. It is precisely because Ocasio-Cortez has so much power that she must be asked to explain her smear against the White House.
Sadly, we shouldn’t hold our breath for that. Careful examination of phony accusations and demands for clarification are generally only for Republicans. There isn’t much conservatives can do about that except to make it clear we see and do not accept the double standard and that it will, should, and must always color our opinion and impression of what major news media outlets are and are not telling us.