As reported by The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra, freshman congresswoman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) decided to double triple down yesterday on her unapologetic peddling of age-old anti-Semitic conpsiracy theories. Responding to Jewish congresswoman Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY)’s tweet that Omar cease her “bigotry”-laden talk of some pro-Israel legislators allegedly having a “foreign allegiance” to the State of Israel, Omar shot back that she should not be expected to…have any foreign allegiances.
This is not even thinly veiled anti-Semitism — it is straight-up, unvarnished anti-Semitism. Insinuating that Jews are conflicted by “dual loyalty” is right up there with the infamous “blood libel” as the most deep-rooted of all centuries-long anti-Semitic canards.
The ongoing saga of Omar peddling in open anti-Semitism, issuing non-apology “apologies,” and then repeatedly spouting her bigotry as if she has learned nothing raises a thorny quandary. As international lawyer and Israel advocate Arsen Ostrovsky raises on Twitter today, there are two competing sentiments in tension with one another: Natural resistance to yielding to a pitiful cry for attention, on the one hand, and the need to call out anti-Semitism, on the other hand.
Ostrovsky comes down squarely on the side of persistently calling out anti-Semitism. And he is right to do so.
There are two main reasons why it is imperative to continually call out Ilhan Omar’s obstinate animus (or any politician’s obstinate animus) toward Jews.
First, from a deontological perspective, it is our moral obligation to call out Omar as an individual. Anti-Semitism is the world’s oldest and most uniquely insidious form of bigotry known to man. In a country such as the United States, for which the intrinsic moral good of freedom of conscience was codifided into our positive law as the very first freedom of which the (very) First Amendment speaks, it is our collective duty as a free citizenry to be constantly vigilant against religious bigotry. America is, at its core, a wonderfully philo-Semitic country. Indeed, America’s Founding Fathers were themselves often emphatically philo-Semitic. Consider George Washington’s famous 1790 letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island:
May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.
Consider also John Adams’s 1808 letter to François Adriaan Van der Kemp:
[The Jews] are the most glorious Nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their Empire were but a Bauble in comparison of the Jews. They have given Religion to three quarters of the Globe and have influenced the Affairs of Mankind more, and more happily than any other Nation ancient or modern.
America would not be the nation that it is without its ethical grounding in the Judeo-Christian moral tradition, and the Judeo-Christian moral tradition would not be that tradition without a baseline level of concomitant philo-Semitism. Philo-Semitism, therefore, is deeply rooted in this nation’s legal, cultural, and moral fabric. As the current gatekeepers of the American republic — and, especially, living as we do within living memory of the most systematically executed mass genocide in huuman history, inflicted as it was upon the Jewish people — we have a basic moral obligation to continually speak out against Jew-hatred whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head. Put as bluntly as possible, we need to speak out because, as an innate matter, it is the right thing to do.
Second, from a consequentialist perspective, we must speak out so as to incentivize individuals to repent, and to incentivize institutions — such as the Democratic Party — to correct course. Ostrovsky is right to point out that we should be potentially concerned about any perverse incentives realized as a result of giving attention to bigots who seek attention for their bigotry. But, even from an incentives-based consequentialist perspective, this concern is outweighed by countervailing factors. Omar’s anti-Semitism may be so hardened and deep-rooted so as to place her above the possibility of redemption, but surely that is not the case for every single misanthrope who encounters and repeats an “anti-Zionist” or anti-Semitic trope found on a far-Left or pro-Palestinian website. Preserving the ability to repent for one’s sins and errors, as an individual matter, is biblically rooted and is ultimately necessary for the betterment of the human condition. The alternative mentality, that repentance is not possible, is what risks sending a society down the path of the Brett Kavanaugh circus — wherein repentance for one’s (alleged) sins, no matter how long ago those (alleged) sins were committed, is not only not possible, but careers can also be ruined decades later as a result. That repentance-free world is, fundamentally, not reflective of a just society — or certainly not reflective of a society inspired by the Judeo-Christian moral tradition.
Finally, in this context, constantly calling out Omar’s anti-Semitism produces a needed public outrage so as to better incentivize the Democratic Party to shift course and better police its own. Those who oppose anti-Semitism — of all political stripes — simply cannot let this bigotry from Omar and her ilk become the new normal within the Democratic Party. We must call out Omar’s constant peddling of Jew-hatred so as to better incentivize House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), any committee chairmen on congressional committees to which she belongs (such as House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)), and any other relevant institutional actors to properly punish and police their own. Our howls may not ultimately produce the changes and internal reprimands we seek, but it is truly the least we can do.
In the interim, shame — yet again — on Ilhan Omar.