By Erielle Davidson
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March 8, 2019
A House vote on a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism met fierce pushback from various factions within the Democrat Party this past week, leaving many to contemplate at what precise point in politics the condemnation of anti-Semitism became a controversial notion. We couldn’t agree last week that allowing a breathing, injured baby to be denied the care of a hospital was criminal. Apparently, we also can’t agree that hating Jews is despicable.
As David Marcus of The Federalist remarked darkly, “Hatred of the Jews is nuanced.” As the Democrats’ indulging of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) reveals, perhaps to the left it is. Or, more perniciously, what we have witnessed this past week is a highly public fight for the soul of the Democrat Party, a sort of forced reckoning with the wildly left elements of the party that seem intent on dragging the party to the depressing depths of their ideology.
The Democrats’ internal fight over the anti-Semitism resolution reveals a stark picture of the competing factions vying for control over the party’s agenda. Those most opposed to the resolution, the farther left members of the House, as well as key members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), have expressed outrage at the resolution, bemoaning that it “targets” Omar. Nowhere in the entire document does Omar’s name appear once.
Although her commentary inspired the document, the political resistance’s hubris in believing that she is the only anti-Semite in Congress is laughably ignorant. There is something deeply and inexorably wrong when one of America’s major political parties cannot condemn hatred of the group that is subjected to the majority of religious hate crimes in this country.
The litany of excuses presented by those opposed to the resolution, from minimizing the experiences of Holocaust survivors to infantilizing Omar to bemoaning Trump as a “bigot,” are all deeply unsatisfying and point to a far greater sickness within the Democrat Party that the establishment branch, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has allowed to fester unabated.
In fact, there is a strong argument to be made that the Democrat establishment did not just ignore the radicalism but embraced it as a tool to capture a larger portion of the younger electorate. Like Rumpelstiltskin returning for the young woman’s first-born, the far-left elements are extracting their payment from the establishment—the latitude to be anti-Semitic with the unquestioning support of Democrat leadership.
The anti-Semitism of the progressive wing of Democrat leadership should shock no one. From flirtations with Jeremy Corbyn to meetings with Louis Farrakhan, the farthest left wing of the Democrat Party has a long history of fraternizing with anti-Semites. Jeryl Bier in The Wall Street Journal and National Review has covered extensively Farrakhan’s connection to the CBC.
For those unfamiliar with Louis Farrakhan, he is most infamous for Jew hatred, referring to Jews as “termites” and to Adolf Hitler as a “very great man.” He also peddles conspiracy theories such as that Zionist Jews were responsible for 9/11, and complains frequently about the “filth and indecency” that the “false Jew” encourages. This is a mere sampling.
Farrakhan has an intimate relationship with the CBC. Bier’s work points out how 20 CBC members posed for a picture with Farrakhan back in 2005. Barack Obama, then a senator, was present at the event, but did not appear in the photograph.
Farrakhan’s meetings with the CBC continued well before and beyond that photo, as several members either had closed-door meetings with the bigoted Nation of Islam leader or attended events with him. In 2002, Farrakhan briefed the CBC at the Capitol regarding his recent trip to the Middle East at the request of John Conyers, a Democratic representative from Michigan. Six months after the 2005 photo, several members of the CBC met up with Farrakhan again, this time in New Orleans.
Although the relationship fizzled for a while, Keith Ellison, current deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, reignited it, attending a private event at which Farrakhan was also present in 2013. In 2015, Rep. Danny Davis (D-Illinois) spoke to a crowd at the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, an activist gathering Farrakhan organized.
“I want to commend and congratulate minister Louis Farrakhan for his visionary leadership,” Davis said. Bier gives a distinct account of this particular event that emphasizes how despicably embedded the Nation of Islam is among the farthest-left ranks of Democrats:
[Rep.] Davis was introduced by Leonard Muhammed, the Nation of Islam’s chief of staff, and was followed by none other than the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s estranged pastor, and by Linda Sarsour, a Muslim activist who herself often faces charges of anti-Semitism. One of the emcees for the Justice or Else rally was Women’s March co-founder Tamika Mallory, who stands by Farrakhan to this day.
When members of the CBC shielded Omar from questions following her anti-Semitic comments, who could be remotely surprised? The irony of the feigned shock from various corners is that Omar is not an aberration or an exception to CBC members—she is the rule. There is a pithy saying: When someone shows you who she is, believe her.
Given Farrakhan’s historical connection to the CBC, their resistance to the anti-Semitism resolution seems effectively on-brand. Those who are comfortable sharing a table with a man who celebrates Hitler are perhaps not the best individuals to comment on anti-Semitism. But indeed, here we are.
Some people in the CBC have condemned Farrakhan, and we should celebrate such distancing. But several others have not remarked at all or have even doubled down on their support of Farrakhan.
The “debate” over whether anti-Semitism should be condemned evinces the Rumpelstiltskin bargain the Democrat establishment made. Instead of capitalizing on the progressive wave and playing footsie with their more radical positions, Democratic leadership should have addressed the fringe stances within their party before allowing the party to reach its current boiling point—where it is now a “discussion” whether to condemn anti-Semitism.
The rise of anti-Semitism on the left is not a sudden occurrence, but the result of years of flirting and courting fringe causes that carry an inordinate amount of bigoted baggage. The Women’s March is a prime example of such a cause. Democrats threw themselves into the nominally “feminist” movement, despite flagrant warnings of rabid anti-Semitism.
The Ilhan Omar debacle presents yet another opportunity for Democrats to reject anti-Semitism, although there appears little motivation within the establishment to do so. It seems Democrats are doomed to cater to the anti-Semites once again, as we all scream from the sidelines. Your move, Madame Speaker.
Erielle Davidson is a Senior Contributor at the Federalist and a law student at Georgetown University Law Center. She previously was an economic research assistant at the Hoover Institution and a Publius Fellow at the Claremont Institute. She graduated from Middlebury College with a B.A in Russian, with a focus on Eastern European security issues. Find her on Twitter at @politicalelle.