The US House of Representatives passed a party-line resolution to establish a special envoy at the State Department to monitor and combat Islamophobia. The bill was sponsored by Minnesota Democrat Representative Ilhan Omar, a Muslim immigrant from Somalia. While we commend congress-people for the vote, perhaps they would be better off fighting racism and bigotry at home. Omar, as a member of ‘The Squad’ — a nickname for a group of young, mostly female progressive Democrats — has already been a target of vilification from the Republican party and even more conservative Democrats. Her staunch criticism of Israel’s repressive government has led to her being accused of anti-semitism, even though she has been equally critical of authoritarian regimes in Muslim countries.
But despite often appearing to be in a lonely corner due to her outspoken support for the rights of the oppressed in the US and abroad, her entire party, and several independent thinkers outside Congress, came to her support when bigoted comments by Lauren Boebert, a far-right Republican, came to light. Boebert was recorded mocking Omar at a private event by comparing her to Islamist terrorists. She later refused to publically apologise for her comments and even doubled down, earning the support of other far-right Republicans.
There is also a strange irony to the fact that Boebert actively supports domestic terrorists such as the ones that attacked the US Capitol on January 6. She has also been accused of giving the ringleaders guided tours of the Capitol ahead of the attack, and tweeting out the locations of Democratic leaders while the attack was in progress. Unfortunately, the Republican party refuses to censure her, knowing that it may cost them their racist base. It is also why the bill will likely fail to clear the Senate, where Republicans have enough senators to block a vote. In fact, only one House Republican supported the Islamophobia bill — Rep Adam Kinzinger, who referred to Boebert as “trash” after learning of her comments.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2021.