Sometimes It Is All About the Benjamins
“What [Ilhan Omar] said is so deep-seated in her heart that her lame apology..was just not appropriate.”
- Donald Trump
On August 11, 2017, white-supremacists marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia chanting “Sieg Heil” and “Jews will not replace us.” The next day James Alex Fields Jr., “who a former teacher said was fascinated by Nazism and Hitler”, purposefully drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters to the “Unite the Right” rally, killing Heather Heyer in cold blood. Donald Trump responded by saying that there were “fine” people on both sides. There are no “fine” people in a crowd of people chanting Nazi slogans.
While the grandfather of Jewish children could not offer an outright condemnation of Nazis in Charlottesville, Trump did become outraged over the comments of a congressperson. No, it was not directed at Steve King, who told the New York Times: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” On these words Trump was silent. Instead, he criticized freshman Representative Ilhan Omar for daring to suggest that Washington runs on money:
In order to construct Omar’s statement as anti-Semitic, one has to look at that one sentence and conclude that she holds the stereotypical view that the Jewish people control the money supply. That is a very large jump in logic and may suggest more about the accuser than Omar.
If Trump is serious that Omar “should resign from Congress” because of this single sentence, then he must also feel that the politician who made these comments to the Republican Jewish Coalition should also step down:
- “Stupidly, you want to give money. …You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money.”
- “I’m a negotiator, like you folks.”
- “Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals? Probably more than any room I’ve ever spoken.”
Trump should also have this same person address the accusation that they told a business associate: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” If anti-Semitism truly has no place in our government and Omar’s statement sets the bar, then Trump should also agree that his own comments are equally as disqualifying.
While Trump’s history makes his faux outrage over Omar’s Tweet especially hypocritical, there has been bipartisan criticism from the establishment of both parties. This has distracted from what the Congresswoman actually said, which is that our government has been corrupted by the Citizens United ruling and the influence of money in politics. As part of the incoming class of Justice Democrats, Omar won her seat without taking money from corporate PACs, which is unsettling to those politicians who depend on that money.
The truth is that supporters of the right-wing Israeli government have a lot of influence over American politicians through their political donations. The problem is not that the money comes from Jewish Americans, it is that dependence on this money has encouraged politicians to act in a way that is counter to American values. The most recent example and the impetus of the offending statement was the passage of a “measure to allow state and municipal governments to punish companies that boycott, divest from or place sanctions on Israel” due to “its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories”.
Omar’s criticism has not been limited to lobbyists for the government of Israel. The monetary influence of the NRA and Big Oil have also been targeted by the Congresswoman. The fact that these interests have tried to silence her says a lot about the power of the Benjamins.
Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.