Which century was Omar talking about?
I’m sure this wasn’t your intent but you have done an excellent job of illustrating the bigotry of the attacks on Omar. At no point has she made directly antisemitic statements. Based on her actual statements the only thing that can be said is that her choice of terms can be interpreted as historically antisemitic tropes.
Based on her previous apologies she did not realize she was using offensive language. Mostly because she wasn’t. Unfortunately ignorance is not a good excuse and I think she understands that now. This is an historical minefield.
A trope is simply a metaphorical term or expression used to quickly illustrate common characteristics in literature. The problem is that with roughly 1,500 years of antisemitic literature in the Western tradition it is hard to find a word with negative connotations that hasn’t been used against Jewish people. The whole Elder’s of Zion construction is a treasure trove of language turned to antisemitic purposes.
My point is that I am very impressed with Ilhan Omar and respect her support for the Palestinian people. The truth here is that she used language with a history, as all language has, but not with the full intent of antisemitism. For that in America you need to look to the Republican Party and Trump.
I agree with Ilhan Omar that this is a traditional propaganda method to avoid addressing the problem of what Israel, as a state, has become and its brutal oppression of the Palestinian people. In this country the, near mindless, support for Israel is heavily driven by massive lobbying and funding campaigns by Israeli sponsored organizations. That needs to be questioned and changed.
I’m hoping that Ilhan continues to fight this directly but, also, that she gets better at playing the language game. This is, very much, a major part of the paradigmatic shift we are in. Younger people are not a product of the horrors of the first half of the 20th century. Knowing the history intellectually of genocide in that century is not as important to them as the brutality that they have grown up with in the 21st century.
Knowing Ilhan’s specific constituency that is a mix of Somali and Jewish in Minnesota, I don’t think it reasonable to assume her intent was a 20th century style attack on the Jewish people.
We have very different problems now. Well, that excludes the atavistic throwbacks in the current collapse of the American political system that are a problem now and truly antisemitic. But that is at a lower level of crude racism and ignorance.