After the House voted to deny Rep. Ilhan Omar a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee—using a precedent Democrats recently created but suddenly find deeply offensive—AP tweeted: “BREAKING: House Republicans have voted to oust Democratic Rep Ihan [sic] Omar from the House Foreign Affairs committee. The vote to remove the Somali-born Muslim lawmaker came after her past comments critical of Israel.”
Almost two years ago to the day, the Associated Press reported on the House removing another congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, from her committee assignments like so: “BREAKING: The U.S. House votes to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from committees for spreading violent, racist rhetoric.”
You’ll notice that when Democrats denied Taylor Greene a committee seat it was “the House,” but it is “House Republicans” when Omar is booted (and this was the case on NPR, PBS, Yahoo!, etc.). House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has the power to unilaterally eject Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the intelligence committee, but the entire House was needed to remove Omar. Obviously both votes were largely along partisan lines, as almost all votes are these days. It’s a newsworthy fact, no doubt. Yet AP editors left the partisan aspect of the story out of the headline for only one of the incidents, even though Democrats were the ones creating the precedent.
More misleading, however, is the claim that Taylor Greene was expelled for “spreading violent, racist rhetoric,” while Omar was merely targeted for the innocuous offense of being “critical of Israel.” This is a constantly repeated lie (see the New York Times, PBS, etc.) Numerous politicians are “critical of Israel.” Omar doesn’t believe the Jewish people deserve a state, no matter what policies Israel engages in short of going out of business. She is critical of the existence of this one nation. That’s a pretty important distinction (notwithstanding the transparently political resolution Democrats came up with today to give Omar cover).
But that’s not the central problem, either. Omar, when already a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, compared the United States to Hamas and the Taliban. After she was elected to Congress, Omar diminished the 9/11 attacks—“some people did something”— to exaggerate the presence of “Islamophobia” in this country, a comment that was worse, not better, in context. And when Omar says House members are expected to pay “allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country” or that supporters of Israel are in it for “Benjamins,” she is not “being critical” of any policy, she is spreading ugly “tropes.”
The press then uncritically repeats Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’s claim that Democrats “unequivocally condemned” Omar four years ago, without any pushback. But either Jeffries is lying or doesn’t understand that “unequivocal” means with “no doubt and “unambiguous.” The House passed a watered-down resolution mentioning Alfred Dreyfus, Leo Frank, Henry Ford, and “anti-Muslim bigotry” — and a bunch of other bad -isms — that never even mentions Omar. One expects there will be no media “fact checks” forthcoming.
It is also true that while conspiracies about Jewish-controlled space rays causing California wildfires are deeply stupid, they are no more “violent” than contending Jews are hypnotizing the world for “evil.” As I’ve noted, Taylor Greene believes a lot of idiotic things, but she is no more guilty of spreading bigoted rhetoric than any member of The Squad. Just like Omar, Taylor Greene has apologized for her remarks, and claims to no longer believe them. (Although Omar is only sorry you’re upset. Also, it was all just a big, unfortunate, decade-long misunderstanding.)
Democrats, as the AP helpfully noted two years ago, threw “hard-right Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona” off their committees. Who doesn’t want to throw “hard-right” members off committees. Sounds scary. As far as I can tell, the AP has never once referred to any Democrat in Congress, not even socialists like Omar, of being on the “far left.” Yet it does stress that Omar is “Somali-born” and “Muslim,” which strongly insinuates any vote against her is driven by Islamophobia. How does one square that with GOP efforts to boot Swalwell and Schiff from committees, as well? I suppose when you’re an activist, you don’t need to make any real sense of these things.
It’s getting tedious constantly pointing out the partisan activism in the establishment “press.” But wire services like the Associated Press (where I worked briefly early in my career) were once widely relied on to provide objective, no-nonsense journalism. Now they’re just, at best, useless.