Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., on Tuesday refused to support a congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide, saying it was important first to condemn the preceding “mass slaughter” of “hundreds of millions of indigenous people,” as well as the “transatlantic slave trade.”
Omar, in a statement explaining her vote of “present” on the resolution, also seemingly suggested that the century-old mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks may not have occurred at all. She asserted that “accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as a cudgel in a political fight” but should instead “be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics.”
The comments prompted accusations that Omar, again, was seeking to communicate a bigoted message while maintaining a veneer of wink-and-nod deniability — even as she has previously called for a boycott over alleged Israeli human-rights abuses, described the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as an instance in which “some people did something”, and asserted that “Israel has hypnotized the world.”
Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib made history as the first Muslim women in Congress earlier this year, and within weeks, Omar was criticized by her own party for series of remarks deemed anti-Semitic — including her claim that Jewish support in Washington was “all about the Benjamins, baby.” (Tlaib, too, has also been accused of anti-Semitism in office.)
“There’s nothing wrong with asking that the U.S. government acknowledge human rights abuses here before we acknowledge them overseas,” Jilani wrote. “The issue is, the U.S. government already did acknowledge the ones Omar is asking it to acknowledge. Didn’t acknowledge the Armenian genocide at behest of Turkey.”
Jilani added: “Congress has passed many resolutions condemning abuses against Native Americans and slavery. It has never passed a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide. That’s why Ilhan Omar’s explanation here rings hollow.”
Other commentators were alternately perplexed and outraged by Omar’s statement.
“Her explanation doesn’t cut it,” said political scientist Ian Bremmer.
“Hard to square this approach with her support for BDS. Not a good look,” wrote former George W. Bush administration official Christian Vanderbrouk, referring to Omar’s support for the movement to boycott and sanction Israel for alleged human rights abuses.
“This is a bizarre explanation,” journalist Yashar Ali observed.
“All lives matter?” mused Alan Cole, a senior GOP economist on Capitol Hill.
“I’m utterly confused by this,” GOP political strategist Andrew Surabian wrote, asking if Omar was…
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