Incoming Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has threatened to kick Congresswoman Ilhan Omar off the House Foreign Affairs Committee, with the excuse that she’s “anti-Semitic” and “anti-American.” Of course, these charges are false, but they are dangerous, and sufficient reason in themselves to stand up for Ilhan Omar on this.
But there are other reasons to keep the Congresswoman on that committee (and they may secretly be reasons that McCarthy wants her off). Yes, she’s voted for weapons for war in Ukraine among other horrible things, and it is a very low bar, but among all U.S. Congress Members, Omar is the leading internationalist, a lonely advocate, much of the time at least, for good U.S. global citizenship. She has:
- Sought to block weapons sales to leading human rights abusers.
- Tried to stop weapons sales to United Arab Emirates.
- Tried to stop weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.
- Passed through the House a requirement that the Pentagon report to Congress on the financial costs and national security benefits of operating, improving, and maintaining overseas military bases and infrastructure.
- Worked to repeal U.S. laws blocking support for the International Criminal Court.
- Urged the U.S. to join the International Criminal Court.
- Urged the U.S. to (be the final nation on Earth to) join the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Proposed an Office of Global Criminal Justice in the U.S. State Department.
- Worked to prevent a U.S. war on Iran.
Congresswoman Omar has sought to protect whistleblowers, immigrants, and victims of war and of bigotry. The statements she has made that have been the focus of wildly false accusations against her are praiseworthy. They include this one:
“We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”
And this one:
“Even as we stand with the Ukrainian people, we must avoid the knee-jerk calls to make this conflict even worse. One thing we should have learned throughout our history is that policy decisions we make simply based on fear or rage rarely end well. Increasingly we are hearing voices calling for the United States and NATO to enter into war with Russia. For the most part, they are not saying this directly. They are using euphemisms like ‘no-fly zone.’ . . . There are voices now that are shockingly casual about the risk of nuclear war. I’m asking the American people: Do not believe them!”
Having this voice in Congress and on the Foreign Affairs Committee radically alters that body and that committee. If we want a government run exclusively by militaristic and narrowly nationalistic officials, then by all means, we should sit by as Omar is booted off a committee.
But if we dream of a U.S. government that works well with others, that joins the global community, that adheres to the rule of law, that supports treaties on human rights and disarmament, then now is a time for demanding that your Representative take a stand.