Ilhan Omar’s supposedly anti-Semitic comments on the Israel lobby have thrust the Muslim congresswoman into the spotlight recently, dividing the party and forcing a vote on a resolution that sort-of condemned her statements.
With the did-she, didn’t-she anti-Semitism controversy still playing out, Omar turned on former President Barack Obama, who, to many in her party, is above criticism. The Minnesota lawmaker told Politico that Obama stood for the status quo, and not for any real “hope and change.”
From the “caging of kids” at the US-Mexico border to the “droning of countries around the world,” Omar argued that the Democratic Party leader’s policies were no better, morally speaking, from the policies of the current administration.
“We can’t be only upset with Trump. … His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was,” Omar said. “And that’s not what we should be looking for anymore. We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.”
While the left castigated Trump for separating illegal immigrant children from their families at the border last year, the Obama administration also isolated and detained children while their parents’ court cases were being processed. Obama also stepped up the US targeted killing campaign, using drones to strike suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Omar’s native Somalia. Around 2,500 people were killed in theses strikes, up to 800 of them civilians, according to conflicting figures from the US Government and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Politico described Omar as part of an “insurgent activist wing swallowing up the party’s establishment.” The election of Trump certainly galvanized this wing, driving the party leftwards and propelling self-declared socialists like Rep. Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez (D-New York) to ‘household name’ status.
Seemingly emboldened by the recent controversy, Omar’s agitation has widened the divide between the suit-and-tie Democrat establishment – exemplified by Rep. Juan Vargas’ warning that any criticism of Israel is “unacceptable” – and this rising activist wing.
Omar herself wasn’t always as disruptive, though. As a Minnesota State Representative, Omar bid a fond farewell to Obama before Trump’s inauguration in 2017, calling him a “source of inspiration, hope and change.”
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