In late February first-term Rep. Ilhan Omar made a series of remarks that many deemed anti-Semitic.
Her words sparked outrage throughout Washington and across party lines. Republicans harshly criticized Omar and Democrats as a whole, who scrambled to figure out the proper course of action in addressing the freshman representative’s comments.
In the end, a resolution condemning anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim discrimination was passed on March 7.
Although public redress of Omar’s comments was certainly necessary, the decision by Democrats not to name her specifically, and opting to extend the resolution to include anti-Muslim speech represents larger societal issues.
Although unfortunate and offensive, Omar’s comments represented an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans alike to have a real conversation regarding our country’s history of anti-Semitism that spans the entirety of our countries history.
President Donald Trump has been one of the harshest critics of both Omar and the Democratic Party. Not only did he call for Omar’s resignation, but he tweeted on March 6, “It is shameful that House Democrats won’t take a stronger stand against anti-Semitism in their conference. Anti-Semitism has fueled atrocities throughout history and it’s inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!”
Despite his seemingly strong support for the Jewish community, during the 2016 election, Trump’s campaign contributed its fair share to anti-Semitic tropes. This includes tweeting an image of opponent Hillary Clinton standing in front of the Star of David and a pile of money.
Rather than opting to have the tough conversation about why anti-Semitism persists in our country so often touted as a “melting pot” of acceptance politicians across party lines opted to take the easy way out.
Our societies desire to be politically correct is preventing our ability to truly reach the acceptance and equality we strive for.
Resolutions condemning hate speech are ceremonial in nature and do as much to prevent the perpetuation of American bigotry as our “thoughts and prayers” do in addressing gun violence.
Politicians choose to avoid having a meaningful conversation on bigotry, and instead chose to continue down a rabbit hole of condemning and forgetting. Why? The answer is simple; it is a tough conversation to have.
However, these tough conversations are the ones worth having, and the ones that are necessary if we ever hope to address the root of American bigotry, eliminate it and reach the accepting society we claim to have.