The last straw came Sunday night, when Omar suggested in a tweet that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) supported Israel only for campaign donations.“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” she wrote, an apparent reference to the 1997 Puff Daddy single featuring the Notorious B.I.G., Lil’ Kim and The Lox. . . .When people asked what Omar meant by McCarthy’s motives being “all about the Benjamins,” she tweeted, “AIPAC,” referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential pro-Israel lobbying group that has spent millions sending lawmakers on visits to the Jewish nation over the years.
AIPAC does not contribute money to any candidate, although American Jews and gentiles who belong to AIPAC may give money to all sorts of candidates and causes.
On Monday, Jewish Democratic congressmen expressed their outrage. Jewish groups including AIPAC deplored the comments as well. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) hammer then came down with a statement on behalf of the entire Democratic House leadership:
Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned whenever it is encountered, without exception.We are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests. Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share. But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.As Democrats and as Americans, the entire Congress must be fully engaged in denouncing and rejecting all forms of hatred, racism, prejudice and discrimination wherever they are encountered.
Omar herself apologized Monday afternoon.
Republicans are demanding Omar be booted off the Foreign Affairs Committee, but Pelosi hasn’t gone that far. (It is noteworthy that Republicans have bashed Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for their support of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.)
So why do Democrats generally do better in these circumstances?
For one thing, Democrats’ lawmaking contingent is far more diverse than Republicans. Be it Jewish members or African Americans, there is a critical mass of representatives from groups that have been persecuted. They are sensitive and informed about the sorry history of prejudice. Moreover, Democrats’ base of support in the country at large is much more diverse than Republicans. (In elections, it is not unusual for more than 90 percent of African Americans and 80 percent to 85 percent of American Jews to vote Democratic.)
Furthermore, since the civil rights era when white southerners left the Democratic Party and decamped to the GOP, Democrats have taken up the mantle of civil rights while Republicans have been saddled with the legacy of white grievance and resentment. That sentiment — that whites are the victims — predominates among white evangelicals and hence in the Trumpized Republican Party. Whether overtly playing to the fringe alt-right or giving a wink and nod to those whites grumbling about their perceived displacement in society, Republicans are far more hesitant to take on their own when it comes to bigotry. And frankly, so long as Trump sits in the Oval Office, they will not be anxious to scrub their party of racism and misogyny. For today’s GOP’s base, those hateful sentiments are a feature, not a bug.