House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continued to make excuses for Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) anti-Semitism on Friday, saying that Omar “has a different experience in the use of words.”
Many pundits have said that Pelosi, who defended Omar while speaking at the Economic Club in Washington, D.C., has appeared to lose control of the Democratic Party over the way she has handled the situation.
“The incident that happened, I don’t think our colleague is anti-Semitic,” Pelosi said. “I think she has a different experience in the use of words, doesn’t understand that some of them are fraught with meaning that she didn’t realize.”
Pelosi also defended Omar on Thursday during her weekly press conference.
“Do you think that Ilhan Omar understands why her comments were problematic?” a reporter asked. “And what happens if this happens again?”
“First of all, thank you for the question,” Pelosi responded. “I don’t think the congresswoman is — perhaps appreciated the full weight of how it’s heard by other people. I don’t believe it was intended in an anti-Semitic way.”
“But the fact is that’s how it was interpreted,” Pelosi continued. “We have to remove all doubt, as we have done over and over again. We’re working now on a resolution on the floor that will, again, speak out against anti-Semitism, anti-Islamophobia, anti-white supremacy and all the forms it takes, that our country has no place for this.”
“She hasn’t apologized,” the reporter pressed. “Does she need to apologize?”
“She may need to explain that she did not — It’s up to her to explain,” Pelosi responded. “But I do not believe she understood the full weight of the words. When you’re a congressman — when you are an advocate out there, as I was. I appreciate all the enthusiasm that comes into Congress. I told you that before. That was me pushing a stroller and carrying those signs. I understand how advocates come in with their enthusiasms.”
“But when you cross that threshold in the Congress, your words weigh much more than when you’re shouting at somebody outside. And I feel confident that her words were not based on any anti-Semitic attitude,” Pelosi continued. “But that she didn’t have a full appreciation of how they landed on other people where these words have a history and a cultural impact that might have been unknown to her.”
When Omar was pressed on Thursday about whether she needed to apologize for her anti-Semitism she refused to respond.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who has strong ties to anti-Semitism, also repeatedly defended Omar, saying that people were too hard on her.
“I think it’s a learning experience, and it’s part of the fact that when we elect the most diverse Democratic caucus that we have in pretty much ever, it means that we have new communities at the table, new conversations that need to be had, and we have to learn how to have conversations differently every time,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Manu Raju.
“Do you think that Congresswoman Omar was unfairly singled out?” Raju asked Ocasio-Cortez.
Ocasio-Cortez responded: “You know I think that uh … I think that … you know I, I think that, that, uh, things came down on her a little too hard.”