Ilhan Omar does not belong on the House Foreign Affairs Committee

“I am not a fan of Ilhan Omar. She’s an anti-Semite. She’s a bigot. She’s a racist. She’s a socialist.” In saying this, Rep Nancy Mace (R-SC) is absolutely correct. Where she errs is in calling Rep. Omar’s removal from the House Foreign Affairs Committee “cancel culture.”

The work of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) is to consider legislation that affects the diplomatic community, which includes the Department of State, the Agency for International Development, the Peace Corps, and the United Nations, and enforcing the Arms Export Control Act. The HFAC takes on seriously weighty issues critical to our national peace, affluence, and security. The members tackle subjects of importance to every region and country in the world. Tough work. The kind of work that requires dispassionate, serious, well-rounded, thoughtful, honest people dedicated to advancing America’s priorities and ensuring that American citizens can enjoy life, dwell in liberty, pursue happiness, and freely exercise all their inherent rights.

Peace, economic stability, and national security for all nations are goals we work toward if doing so strengthens us too. HFAC’s work, especially on the budgets of the State Department, USAID, and our portion of the UN’s funding, is critical to that goal. Rep. Omar is simply not the right person to be assigned such work.

Of course, her First Amendment rights are secured to her, as much as they are to any of us. And she certainly has exercised her freedom of speech. The thing about exercising our rights, however, is that this is not done in a vacuum. We reveal ourselves, we act, and all such revelations and actions bring with them the personal responsibility of dealing with the consequences.

Image: Ilhan Omar. YouTube screen grab.

September 11 changed this country and the world. It affected all forms of transportation everywhere. It altered our budgetary priorities further into the future than I will be around to witness. Nothing has had a greater impact on how business is conducted in our world in my lifetime. Yet, Omar treated this event flippantly: “some people did something,” she said. Is she even aware that the totality of the HFAC’s efforts was rearranged by that fateful morning? Does she comprehend its meaning? Based on the evidence, it does not appear so.

Two days ago, Omar tweeted, “Republicans say they believe in freedom of speech and debate. But if you don’t agree with their policies, they will try to forcibly remove you from a committee you serve on.”

Omar is an unserious person. For this statement to be true, nearly all Democrats would be in the process of being removed from their committee assignments. If this were true, she would call all Democrats serving on committees closet Republicans.

Just before that, Omar tweeted, “They [GOP] just hate an African refugee who is Muslim having the power to shape policy in our country.” This odious and patently false accusation against tens of millions of Americans, as well as more than half of her House colleagues, shows that she is anti-American at heart. As such, she is—at her core—unable to carry out the most fundamental duties of a member of the HFAC.

Omar unloaded on Trump, yet again, over an Executive Order from March 2017, in which he halted most travel from seven countries to the United States. It was a 90-day temporary suspension in response to multiple terrorist attacks in Western countries and to those seven countries being unable or unwilling to properly document their citizens. The pause was made to evaluate and reinforce our ability to suss out terrorists applying for visas and other means of legal entry into the United States.

Instead, Omar claimed it was based on religious discrimination. If that had been the case, every Muslim-majority population would have been prohibited, and not just for 90 days. Her inability to address the substance of this issue truthfully should be disqualifying.

Rep. Omar consistently condemns Israel for defending itself against rocket and other attacks on its citizenry without commensurately condemning the initial attackers. President Trump demonstrated with the Abraham Accords that good relations, including commerce and transportation, between Israel and her neighbors are the key to peace in that region. Anyone unwilling to work collaboratively on this issue has shown herself unfit for an HFAC assignment.

Rep. Mace and others who are not inclined to concur on removing Rep. Omar from the HFAC, please consider this: It is not about Rep. Omar’s First Amendment rights because those guaranteed rights do not include a seat on this or any other committee. It is about her unsuitability for such an assignment.

Omar does not bring the required strengths and skills to the table. She’s had a couple of terms now to show that she is up to it and, sadly for her and for all of us really, she has not risen to the requirements. Perhaps she will come to love this country with all its diversity and value its priorities. Today, however, the last thing we need when addressing our place in the world and with other countries is a dismissive scold.

Anony Mee is the nom de blog of a retired public servant.

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