FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Omar and Trump

“Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!”

What preceded the now-infamous 13 seconds in which the president, frowning and nodding, listened to the mob chant?

“Ilhan Omar,” Trump had thundered, “has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds!”

Well, then, thought the North Carolina rabble, Get her out of here! Send her back to her shithole country!

The curious thing is that the issue here is Israel. Not Omar’s criticisms, common to many, of Trump’s administration in general. Not even her vow to “be Trump’s nightmare.” He focused on her challenge to the U.S. relationship with Israel.

Ilhan Omar has not in fact stated anything I’m aware of that I consider anti-Semitic. (Not that it’s relevant, or that Trump would know this, but Somali is a Semitic language.)

Omar has criticized Israel for its occupation of Palestinian land, as any U.S. legislator—to say nothing of the normal human—should. She has noted matter-of-factly that the Israel Lobby has plenty of money, and that that helps to explain the U.S.’s one-sided “Middle East policy.”

Thus Trump (identifying instinctively with the colonizer, settler, oppressor over the shithole colonized, dispossessed and oppressed) pronounces her “viciously” anti-Israel.

Anyone who doesn’t think Israel wields extraordinary influence over Washington is not paying attention. At present the relationship is cemented by the Jared Kushner-Binyamin Netanyahu bond; it has yielded the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Syria’s Golan Heights, the (implicit) recognition of Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem, the move of the U.S. embassy, the abandonment of the Iran Deal, the designation of part of Iran’s military as “terrorists,” etc.

Trump is personally enthusiastic about Israel; while utterly ignorant and indifferent religiously, prone to publicly caricature Jews as money-bags (while approving them as such, and boasting of his Jewish family ties), he is aware of the emotional importance of Israel to many of his supporters. (He’s also aware of anti-Semitic forces within his base; did he not refer to the neofascists who marched in Charlottesville in August 2017, holding torches and chanting, “Jews will not replace us!” as—at least some of them—“very fine people”?) One should not suppose his indignation at Omar’s comments is anything other than opportunism, not rooted in genuine feelings for Jews or the Jewish state.

In any case, in attacking this diminutive, young brown Muslim Congresswoman in a headscarf, Trump spoke from a teleprompter. This was planned. He used words like “launch” and “screed” that are not part of his normal six-grade vocabulary, explaining the real reason he hates this woman so much: she’s anti-Israel.

She “has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds!” Gosh. How awful. One can feel Trump’s pain.

Trump thus indicates to his base that Americans–real Americans—are pro-Israel. This is national policy, so accept it, everyone! Ilhan’s hostility towards Israel is thus hostility towards America, towards us. She’s on the other side. The al-Qaeda side, if you will…

His vitriol works; the crowd wants her gone. How dare she criticize Israel in this Christian country that so graciously allowed her in, only to get repaid by her hatred!

“Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!” bellow even the angelic-looking children in the audience.

Those 13 seconds comprised perhaps the ugliest moment in the history of this hideous administration. But beautiful in its clarity! It showed Trump as a thorough thug, and his supporters as toxic zombies who would have been totally at home in a Nazi Bavarian beer hall rally in 1933. It was however embarrassing in its Nazi-ness. Ivanka apparently urged her dad to back off, to check the political damage.

Trump has indeed attempted some damage control following those sick moments at his Nuremberg rally in North Carolina. So now he says he didn’t agree with the chant, and stopped it by continuing his speech. This of course causes the networks to replay the tape endlessly to show how, once again, the White House is lying. Trump stood at the podium frowning and nodding for 13 seconds while his supporters chorused their hate.

But Trump doubles down on the four congresswomen (the “Squad”) for their “vicious” attacks on “our country” and Israel (the two constituting a package). All I did, Trump is saying, is call them out for their hatred of our country and Israel. Why should any real American get upset?

Omar, Trump reminds us, said it “was all about the Benjamins” when it comes to U.S. support for Israel. (This is an illusion to a tweet Ilhan made in response to a query from Glenn Greenwald about U.S. support for Israel. “Benjamins” refers to the image of Benjamin Franklin on the $100 bill.) “She should never have said that!” Donald sneers, posturing as the champion of world Jewry, hinting that her past statements will be punished.

How dare a Muslim Somali-American Muslim woman elected to the U.S. Congress suggest that money—filthy money—determines votes in Congress, and that the Israel Lobby has lots of Benjamins to throw around! Trump wants to stoke mass indignation at this, while asking the world to forgive his wild accusations, obvious lies, insufferable insults, and threats to annihilate whole countries.

It’s sickening of course to watch a man so widely exposed as a racist, misogynist, and bigoted as Trump rail against a woman for criticizing Israel and U.S. support for Israel. And it’s shameful that the mainstream media instead of problematizing Trump’s accusations against Omar, leaves the viewer with the impression that while her rights need to be respected she must indeed have said some nasty things.

This could be a teaching moment, not about the way Trump uses demagoguery but about how the ruling class in this country tries to impose support for Israel (and indifference to the Palestinians) on the masses. How it tries to depict any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic, with substantial success. (27 states have taken moves to discourage or criminalize the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] movement designed to pressure Israel to become a normal country and stop oppressing the Palestinian people.)

You don’t see CNN’s Jake Tapper asking what was wrong with any of Omar’s tweets, what statements prompted Trump’s broadside public attack. That’s not worth asking about. The media simply notes that the four Congresswomen (the Squad) are on the left fringe of the Dems so maybe they and their views on foreign policy aren’t that important anyway.

The story in the end is that Trump is engaged in divisive racial politics, the Squad women have said some objectionable things about Israel (that are rarely specified), and the Trump base is racist and bigoted. The only solution, the corporate media suggests, is the most moderate Democrat possible.

The media treatment of Omar has generally been kind; she is a victim of the president that CNN and MSNBC hate and so they have presented her in a positive light, showing heart-warming coverage of her Minnesota welcome home. (Footage of this infuriated Trump, who called the welcome “a tiny staged crowd,” denying Omar’s popularity.)

This is the moment to ask, and demand that the media ask: Why does Ilhan Omar criticize Israel, and why does her view of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which she understands far better than the moron-president, so upset Trump?

***

Trump’s latest comment on Omar: “She’s lucky to be where she is, let me tell you.”

Like he’s graciously allowing her to live. Like he’s keeping his forces—chomping at the bit to smash the anti-Semites—under leash.

So lucky to be where she is—let me tell you!—, targeted by a serial rapist the whole world abhors for the sole crime of criticizing Israel. So lucky to look forward to another Trump disinformation campaign, not about birth this time but marriage.

The president has actually hinted that the Justice Department is looking into charges that Ilhan may have married her brother, as a method for him to acquire a green card. These charges are unfounded and malicious but have we not seen how Trump packages lies and fear to destroy his enemies?

“There’s a lot of talk about the fact that she was married to her brother. I know nothing about it. I hear she was married to her brother.”

He heard that, so it must be true. Expect more Trump vicious screeds against Omar.

More articles by:

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
Gary Leupp
MSNBC and the Next Election: Racism is the Issue (and Don’t Talk about Socialism)
R. G. Davis
Paul Krassner: Investigative Satirist
Negin Owliaei
Red State Rip Off: Cutting Worker Pay by $1.5 Billion
Christopher Brauchli
The Side of Trump We Rarely See
Curtis Johnson
The Unbroken Line: From Slavery to the El Paso Shooting
Jesse Jackson
End Endless War and Bring Peace to Korea
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: What About a New City Center?
Tracey L. Rogers
Candidates Need a Moral Vision
Nicky Reid
I Was a Red Flag Kid
John Kendall Hawkins
The Sixties Victory Lap in an Empty Arena
Stephen Cooper
Tony Chin’s Unstoppable, Historic Career in Music
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bruno Latour’s Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime
Elizabeth Keyes
Haiku Fighting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail