Recent events involving Democratic Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) fit into the category of “you cannot make this stuff up.” At what point does their behavior become unbecoming for a member of Congress, and earn them some form of censure?
First, they have boldly established a record for oblique, but undeniable antisemitism – joining with others in a high-profile Democratic pitch to deride Israel and, in a tour de force, remake America as “socialist.” While not alone in that modern Democratic pitch, they have distinguished themselves as uneducated, unbridled and unrepentant.
Next, the two headed for Israel last week on taxpayer dollars, declaring that free country “Palestine” and promoting a boycott of it. Not surprisingly, this earned the disruptive duo an entry delay, with a request that they not promote civil disturbance in the country.
As the prime minister explained, his government received an advance itinerary for the two congresswomen, indicating that they failed to acknowledge Israel as a country. Moreover, their itinerary “reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.”
That decision, in turn, produced indigence from Congresswoman Tlaib, who suddenly insisted she had to visit her grandmother on the West Bank. When Israel retreated and granted her the visit on humanitarian grounds, she summarily declined the opportunity.
Before getting to the latest improprieties by these two, consider the forgoing in context. Imagine a vocal communist critic of the United States – say from China, Russia or Cuba – demanded entry to stir pro-communist sentiments, was an avowed enemy of our people, described us British colonies or Indian – would we be inclined to allow entry? Obligated? No.
Now imagine that we did allow entry on humanitarian grounds, only to see the vocal critic decline to enter – would we somehow be at fault? No. Now fast forward to the latest shenanigans by these indignant, bellicose, borderline belligerent Democratic congresswomen.
Last weekend, when a no-so-conservative national comedian, Bill Maher, used his television show to criticize the Tlaib’s obsession with fomenting anti-Israeli sentiment, he was slapped back by her on Twitter.
Maher criticized the notion that Israel should be subject to an Arab-led “Boycott, Divest, Sanctions” movement – which Tlaib strongly supports – and was suddenly pinioned by the Democratic member of Congress, who used her power, position and media access to write “Maybe folks should boycott his show.” Is that right? Is that what members of Congress are expected to do – lead boycotts against American allies, and then against media critics?
Adding insult to injury, on Sunday, August 18, this Democratic Congresswoman went one better. In a breathtaking show of insensitivity, ignorance or both, she and Democratic Congresswoman Omar posted an egregious cartoon to social media, drawn by an overtly anti-Semitic cartoonist known for comparing Israel to Nazis and winning honors from Iran in an “International Holocaust Cartoon Contest.”
The out-of-place nature of this week’s bizarre, culturally driven, religiously prejudicial, and grossly inappropriate behavior by two members of Congress, implicitly supported by other Democratic caucus members – seems to put us in a new place.
Not in recent memory have any members of the US Congress so clearly attacked a close US ally, transparently misusing their constitutional power, position and prerogatives to advance a cause of cultural, religious and personal animus. This development is more than disturbing; it is out of sync with the history, dignity and decorum of the body.
The question that surfaces most immediately is not legal, but one of congressional process and political propriety. In a time of unnecessary dissension, political polarization, and growing perceptions by many that the US House is untethered feels no obligation to govern, will current House leadership step up?
Will chamber leadership weigh in and censure one of its own? If so, credit to them. If not, Americans will draw their own conclusions. So far, this has not been a distinguished time for the US House. A lot of thoughtful Americans are just shaking their heads. Their feeling – this is another unimaginable turn, and “you cannot make this stuff up.”