Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has rightly come under fire for using anti-Semitic tropes, but some Democrats have rushed to defend her. One of the most disgusting defenses came out Thursday morning.
In remarks to The Hill, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) not only defended Omar but said her experiences as a refugee from Somalia were “more personal” than those of children of Holocaust survivors.
“I’m serious about that. There are people who tell me, ‘Well, my parents are Holocaust survivors.’ ‘My parents did this.’ It’s more personal with her,” Clyburn told The Hill’s Mike Lillis. “I’ve talked to her, and I can tell you she is living through a lot of pain.”
Clyburn went even further if Lillis’s summary is accurate. “Her experience, Clyburn argued, is much more empirical — and powerful — than that of people who are generations removed from the Holocaust, Japanese internment camps during World War II and the other violent episodes that have marked history,” the Hill reporter wrote.
The Democrat whip added that “long talks with former Rep. Norman Mineta (D-Calif.), a Japanese-American who was interned during WWII, gave him a special appreciation for Omar’s experiences.”
Omar does indeed have a tragic backstory. She was born in October 1981 in Mogadishu, Somalia, the youngest of seven siblings. Her mother died when she was two. After the start of the Somali Civil War in 1991, her family spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya. America accepted her family’s application to be resettled as refugees in 1995. Ilhan Omar became a U.S. citizen in 2000 at age 17.
During the 2018 campaign, Omar cited anti-Semitic tropes, suggesting that Israel is “hypnotizing the world,” and calling the Israeli regime “apartheid.” She falsely accused the American-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) of buying off politicians. Her “apology” has left a great deal to be desired.
In this context, Clyburn’s decision to paint Omar’s experience as “more personal” than the experience of children of Holocaust survivors is disgusting.
Phillip Klein, the executive editor at the Washington Examiner, called the remarks “deeply offensive.”
Deeply offensive statement from Clyburn, who argues that Omar should be given a free pass bc she fled Somolia. “There are people who tell me, ‘Well, my parents are Holocaust survivors.’ ‘My parents did this.’ It’s more personal with her" https://t.co/a2RRFlEUus
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) March 7, 2019
A former special assistant to President Trump called on Clyburn to resign over the comments.
— Boris Epshteyn (@BorisEP) March 7, 2019
CNN host S.E. Cupp tweeted, “Call me naive, but I never expected ‘Well, the Holocaust was a long time ago’ defense of [Ilhan Omar]. But here we are.”
— S.E. Cupp (@secupp) March 7, 2019
Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism is rife across the Muslim world. A 2014 survey by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that 63 percent of people in the Middle East and North Africa said the Holocaust was “a myth or an exaggeration.” A full 65 percent said, “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.” A whopping 74 percent of those in the Middle East and North Africa harbored anti-Semitic views.
Clyburn’s decision to prioritize anti-Semite Omar over Holocaust survivors seems particularly horrific in this context.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.