Ocasio-Cortez asks about condemning other offensive speech as Omar comes under fire

Image: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, listens at a hearing on Capitol
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, listens at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Feb. 27, 2019. Copyright Mandel Ngan AFP - Getty Images
By Allan Smith and Rebecca Shabad and Alex Moe with NBC News Politics
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

The New York congresswoman said it's "hurtful" that "no one seeks this level of reprimand when members make statements about Latinx + other communities."


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded Tuesday to criticisms of her freshman colleague, Rep. Illhan Omar, for controversial remarks about Israel, asking why other kinds of offensive speech are not treated in the same way.

In the first of a lengthy series of tweets, Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said, "One of the things that is hurtful about the extent to which reprimand is sought of Ilhan is that no one seeks this level of reprimand when members make statements about Latinx other communities (during the shutdown, a GOP member yelled 'Go back to Puerto Rico!' on the floor)."

"It's not my position to tell people how to feel, or that their hurt is invalid," she continued in a second tweet. "But incidents like these do beg the question: where are the resolutions against homophobic statements? For anti-blackness? For xenophobia? For a member saying he'll 'send Obama home to Kenya?'"

Ocasio-Cortez's tweets come ahead of an expected House vote Wednesday on a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism after Omar, D-Minn., again made remarks critical of Israel, this time at a Washington, D.C., forum last week

Omar said during a progressive town hall: "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country."

"I want to ask, 'Why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, or fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policy?'" she added.

Multiple Democratic lawmakers criticized Omar's remarks and have called on her to apologize.

A draft of the Democrats' resolution, which does not mention Omar by name, "acknowledges the dangerous consequences of perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes" and "rejects anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States."

On Monday, after Democratic leaders' staff had worked on the measure over the weekend, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling on her to hold a vote on a resolution rejecting what he said were Omar's anti-Semitic statements.

"Accusing Jews of having allegiance to a foreign government has long been a vile anti-Semitic slur that has been used to harass, marginalize, and persecute the Jewish people for centuries," Greenblatt wrote. "Sometimes referred to as the 'dual loyalty' charge, it alleges that Jews should be suspected of being disloyal neighbors or citizens because their true allegiance is to their co-religionists around the world or to a secret and immoral Jewish agenda."

Last month, Omar said she was sorry for tweets about the Israel lobby in the United States that House Democratic leaders condemned as anti-Semitic.

In a post on Twitter, Omar "unequivocally" apologized for the earlier tweets and said her intention was "never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole." But the freshman lawmaker, who was one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress last fall, added that she was not backing down on the "problematic role of lobbyists in our politics."

Ocasio-Cortez said in her Twitter posts on Tuesday that she thought Omar had "demonstrated a willingness to listen work w/impacted communities" in her statement of apology.

Share this articleComments