Over the past few days, the media both in the US and in the UK has been inundated with debate surrounding President Trump’s latest controversial tweets. Personally, even I as a Trump fan was quick to call these tweets racist, or at least, racially charged. Three of the four congresswomen Mr Trump appears to have been referring to were all born in the United States, whilst Ilhan Omar has been a citizen since she was 10 years old. The media, in my opinion, was right to call it racist. However, what deeply bothers me is their blindness or refusal to present both sides of the issue of racism, in a fair and accurate manner.
To clarify, the congresswomen that Trump appears to be referring to, as they call themselves, “The Squad”, consisting of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. These members of the House of Representative have not shied away from controversy, nor have they shied away from bigotry and the embrace of deplorable stances. To clarify, this is not a case of “whataboutery” that I am about to engage in, but instead an observation of what can be perceived as an agenda or example of the ineptitude of the mainstream media. I want to focus in on Ilhan Omar, who herself exemplifies hypocrisy in her criticism of Trump. When she is put under the microscope, Omar is by no means an example of a politician innocent of the charge of bigotry.
Omar has suggested that American support for Israel is “All about the Benjamins baby”, creating a link between the classical anti-Semitic trope of Jews and international financial influence as a cause for America’s support for the Jewish state. Something that to this day she does not regret as quoted in this CBS interview.
Omar has also introduced anti-Israel sanctions under the BDS movement with her recent introduction of this into the US House of Representatives. Whilst superficially the BDS movement may seem like a peaceful economic protest, it is anything but. Countless pro-BDS activists and authors call for the destruction of Israel, as does its founder, Omar Barghouti, opposing the two-state solution and advocating for the destruction of Israel and the continuation of Palestine: “I clearly do not buy into the two-state solution.”.
Whilst this list contains many more bigoted and deplorable statements, I’ll finish Omar’s account with her concerning stances on terrorism. Omar’s apparent sympathy for fighters of Islamic State is one of these. Omar in 2016 advocated for “a restorative approach to justice” rather than a “long-term prison sentence”, asking for “compassion” to be shown towards Abdurahman Yasin Daud who was found guilty of several terrorism-related charges in 2016, sending a letter to the judge presiding over the case on the same day she was elected to Minnesota’s state legislature, November 8, 2016. Omar has several further dishonourable mentions, including more questionable stances on terrorism, for example, describing 9/11 as “some people did something” and giggling about and thus, arguably lessening the evil of terrorists around the world. Whilst these two examples created some backlash, it is only a fraction of what the President has received.
If the media is serious about calling out examples of racism, then it should do so equally, and disregard whether one is a democrat or republican, socialist or capitalist. Surely, if one is to call out bigotry they must do so in this manner. They must condemn racism in a neutral manner. However, it is clear that there is one way in which to condemn racism when it comes from the Democrats, and there is one way in which to condemn racism when it comes from the GOP and the President. This begs the question, do the Democrats, the media and Representative Omar actually care about bigotry in our society? Or do they only care when it comes from the President? As then and only then, they can use it as a tool in which to score political points.
Veteran GOP strategist Roger Stone once reportedly said: “the media is either lazy or evil, or both”. In this case, Stone’s words couldn’t be more accurate.