AOC, Ilhan Omar Call Out Republican Racism in Fiery Floor Speeches
The House of Representatives voted to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday. The final tally was 218-211, with one member voting present. The vote was largely seen as revenge for Democrats electing to strip Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) of their committee assignments for suggesting violent action be taken against their political opponents.
The vote didn’t stop Democrats from going to bat for their colleague, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) pinpointing the real reason for the vote during a fiery speech on the House floor.
“One of the disgusting legacies after 9/11 has been the targeting and racism against Muslim-Americans throughout the United States of America, and this is an extension of that legacy,” she said. “There is nothing consistent with the Republican Party’s continued attacks, except for the racism and incitement of violence against women of color in this body.”
“Don’t tell me this is about consistency,” she continued. “Don’t tell me this is about a condemnation of antisemitic remarks when you have a member of the Republican caucus who has talked about Jewish space lasers and other tropes and also elevated her to some of the highest committee assignments in this body. This is about targeting women of color in the United States of America.”
AOC is referring to Greene, who despite pushing antisemitic tropes — including the idea that a satellite funded by a Jewish family is responsible for the California wildfires — has been embraced by Republican leadership and given plum committee assignments. She also called out the GOP for elevating Gosar, who in 2021 posted a video depicting AOC’s murder.
Republicans have tried to argue that the move to boot Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee is related to her past criticism of Israel. Omar in 2019 tweeted “It’s all about the Benjamins baby” in trying to explain why politicians are so committed to defending Israel. She later wrote “AIPAC!” in response to a tweet asking her who she thinks is giving politicians money to support Israel, referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group. Omar was accused of antisemitism, prompting her to apologize “unequivocally.” On Thursday, Omar signed onto a resolution recognizing Israel as a “legitimate” ally of the United States.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said earlier this week that it would be “dangerous” for Omar to continue to serve on the committee, while misrepresenting Omar’s past comments.
Omar also spoke in her own defense on Thursday. “There is an idea that you are a suspect if you are an immigrant or if you are from certain parts of the world or a certain skin tone or a Muslim,” she said. “It is no accident that members of the Republican Party accused the first Black president, Barack Obama, of being a secret Muslim. It is no accident that former President Donald Trump led a birther movement that falsely claimed he was born in Kenya. To them, falsely labeling the first and only [Black] president a Muslim and African immigrant somehow made him less America. Well, I am Muslim. I am an immigrant and, interestingly, from Africa. It anyone surprised that I am being targeted?”
“I will continue to speak up, because representation matters,” Omar said.