Targeting of Ilhan Omar in Congress linked to her religion: WP
Republicans targeted Ilhan Omar as soon as she was sworn in, and she became a primary focus thanks to Trump.
In a report published by the Washington Post on Monday, it was reported that over the last three Congresses, beginning in 2019, 2021, and earlier this month, a number of House members have been removed from committees on which they served.
After Democrats regained control of the chamber in 2019, Rep. Steve King was removed from his committee assignments. Also, he had previously told the New York Times that he didn't understand why the term "white supremacist" was offensive.
He suggested that the quote was misrepresented, but it came at the end of a long string of increasingly dubious remarks about immigration and race. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy advised King to resign from his committee assignments, which he did, according to the Washington Post.
Reps. Paul A. Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene were removed from committee assignments in 2021 after embracing violent rhetoric directed at their colleagues. Gosar posted a video of himself assassinating Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; CNN discovered Greene's comments in which she appeared to support the execution of Democrats.
McCarthy proposed reducing Greene's committee assignments, but the Democratic majority chose to eliminate them all.
McCarthy's racist strike
McCarthy was elected House Speaker this year. In short order, he announced the removal of a number of Democratic representatives from key committees: Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, and Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Swalwell and Schiff were targeted because the former was linked to a Chinese intelligence official and the latter was a key figure in the 2019 impeachment campaign against President Donald Trump, according to the Washington Post.
How is religion linked to Omar's removal?
The official reason for the attempts to remove Omar is that she has made comments against "Israel" that many in the US have labeled 'antisemitic', which contributed to a controversy that is unmistakably linked to her Muslim faith.
Speaking to CNN about McCarthy’s proposal, Omar suggested that her religion played a role. She said of her colleagues that “many of these members don’t believe a Muslim refugee, an African, should even be in Congress, let alone have the opportunity to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee.”
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She denied accusing McCarthy of racism, but she did note his apathy when Rep. Lauren Boebert joked about Omar being a terrorist.
The path from Omar's religion to her removal from the Foreign Affairs Committee is, according to the Washington Post, more circuitous than directly Islamophobic or racist beliefs, but it is nonetheless clear.
Who is Ilhan Omar?
Omar was elected to Congress in 2018 and was sworn in on the Quran, as a practicing Muslim, in January 2019. In no time, a right-wing social-media meme emerged falsely claiming that she had committed treason.
She was subjected to a slew of baseless claims in the months that followed, many of which stemmed from her history as an African refugee.
Omar sparked a conservative media frenzy a few months after taking office when she praised the work of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in a way that was framed as dismissing the attacks themselves.
By 2021, McCarthy had embraced the obvious media value of attacking Schiff and Omar, stating that if the GOP regained control of the House, he would remove Omar from her committee due to her "antisemitic, anti-American views," according to the Washington Post.
Labeling Omar as "anti-American" came in response to a widely condemned tweet from Omar in which she condemned the unthinkable atrocities committed by the US and "Israel," according to the report.
Many on the right saw Omar as having suspect loyalties from the start, for no apparent reason other than her religion, the report stated. Various comments from Omar were stapled onto that narrative, some obviously problematic, others exaggerated in the conservative media.
Omar became a symbol of the right's framing of their opponents as hard-left, anti-"Israel," and anti-American, fueled in part by what former Donald Trump said about her religion. This is how and why Trump elevated her, and by doing so, he created political value for other Republicans by targeting her in the same way, according to the report.
However, the report suggests that if Omar had not made those comments about "Israel," she was unlikely to have been targeted by McCarthy now. Had she made those remarks if she hadn't been a practicing Muslim who had sparked right-wing ire from the start, this moment would most likely look very different.
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