Among the more interesting excuses Democrats have offered for failing to condemn the anti-semitic statements of Rep. Ilhan Omar are recent comments from Rep. James Clyburn (D, SC), the Majority Whip (third ranking Democrat in the House) and prominent Black Caucus leader. From an interview with Clyburn published in The Hill yesterday:
Clyburn came to Omar’s defense Wednesday, lamenting that many of the media reports surrounding the recent controversy have omitted mentioning that Omar, who was born in Somalia, had to flee the country to escape violence and spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before coming to the United States.
Her experience, Clyburn argued, is much more empirical — and powerful — than that of people who are generations removed from the Holocaust, Japanese internment camps during World War II and the other violent episodes that have marked history.
“I’m serious about that. There are people who tell me, ‘Well, my parents are Holocaust survivors.’ ‘My parents did this.’ It’s more personal with her,” Clyburn said. “I’ve talked to her, and I can tell you she is living through a lot of pain.”
Put aside the fact that this excuse is simply a retread of the familiar progressive assertion that blacks and other victims of white oppression can’t be racists. That old trope is not only wrong but irrelevant, since Omar has suffered nothing at the hands of Jews in Somalia (where there are none) or here, where many Minnesota Jews foolishly supported her.
What is more interesting is that Clyburn obviously doesn’t see how his argument undermines his own unwavering support for special treatment for the descendants of slaves, since slavery was much further in the past than the Holacaust or Japanese internment camps.
It is not surprising that Clyburn regards the anti-semitism controversy as just so much “arguing over the stuff that’s kind of silly to argue over,” as he told The Hill. As The Daily Caller reported last year, Clyburn “attended a 2011 event with Farrakhan and shared the stage with him, even after Jewish groups voiced their opposition to Clyburn attending the event. Clyburn told the Final Call, a Nation of Islam publication, that he was ‘not bothered in the least bit’ by criticisms of his attendance at the event.”