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Ilhan Omar votes ‘present’ on bill condemning genocide, releases statement after backlash

(Bernie Sanders campaign ad video screenshot file photo/Public domain)

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Already under fire for tacitly greenlighting Turkey’s slaughter of the Kurds, Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar now faces even more scrutiny and backlash for her decision to essentially thumb her nose at the historical genocide of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians.

“The House voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to formally recognize the Armenian genocide and denounce it as a matter of American foreign policy, a symbolic vindication for the Armenian diaspora made possible by a new torrent of bipartisan furor at Turkey,” The New York Times reported.

Omar, already under fire for voting against imposing sanctions on Turkey, voted “present” for Tuesday’s vote, despite the 1915 genocide having led to the murder of an estimated 1.5 million men, women and children at the hands of Turkey’s regional and historic predecessor, the Ottoman Empire.

Because the empire is fundamental to Turkey’s history, the Islamic nation has long “denied that the atrocities [commited by it] amounted to genocide,” according to the Times.

That Omar voted “present” for Tuesday’s vote suggests that her loyalty to her close ally, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, outweighs any loyalty she maintains to justice.

In defending her widely panned decision, the congresswoman released a statement accusing her congressional peers of trying to use the genocide of 1.5 million people as a “cudgel” against Turkey, and suggesting that she’d only condemn Turkey’s genocidal actions if Congress first condemned the United States.

“I believe accountability for human rights violations — especially ethnic cleansing and genocide — is paramount,” she said. “But accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as a cudgel in a political fight.”

“It should be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics. A true acknowledgment of historical crimes against humanity must include both the heinous genocide soft he 20th century, along with earlier mass slaughters like the transatlantic slave trade and Native American genocide, which took the lives of hundreds of millions of indigenous people in this country. For this reason, I voted ‘present’ in final passage.”

Rather than earning her any forgiveness, the statement spurred even more anger, including from even her most anti-Semitic supporters and allies.

Take Eli Valley, a cartoonist whose work has been described as “anti-Semitic” because of its caricatures of the Jewish people and their one state, Israel.

Despite repeatedly defending Omar in times past — including when she claimed that Israel uses money to control American politics — even he has joined the growing chorus against her.

“This is bulls–t,” he wrote of her statement. “The genocide is a historical fact, and regardless of why it passed today, it’s ludicrous to demand that a century-delayed resolution encompass every other atrocity known to humankind before it can gain approval.”

Ouch.

Others who also suddenly abandoned Omar after having previously defended her included Michelle Goldberg of The New York Times, Ken Klippenstein of “The Young Turks” and Chris Hayes of MSNBC:

And there’s a whole lot more where that came from:

In response to the criticism, of which the tweets seen above represent just the tip of the iceberg, Omar has doubled down.

Responding specifically to Hayes’ tweet late Tuesday, the Muslim congresswoman dismissed all the criticism as “real politique!”

“My issue was not with the substance of this resolution. *Of course* we should acknowledge the Genocide,” she wrote.

Then why didn’t YOU … !?

Vivek Saxena

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