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The past few weeks have been painful and eye-opening for many Americans. The image of a white politician (apparently) donning blackface in an old yearbook, a deeply offensive and racist mockery of African Americans, opened fresh wounds for many--and during Black History Month. Virginia's governor, Ralph Northam has apologized, as has the state's attorney general for a similar episode, but neither has resigned

Likewise, a Minnesota congresswoman has twice in three weeks had to apologize for troubling anti-Semitic tweets.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, tweeted a vile comment, suggesting Israel's supporters in Congress are beholden to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. "It's all about the Benjamins, baby," she asserted. The tweet drew immediate gasps and ire from all political corners, deservedly, including her own party leadership.

The Anti-Defamation League responded, "At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise in the U.S. and abroad, Rep. Omar is promoting the ugly, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jews have an outsized influence over politics. The notion that wealthy Jews are controlling the government is a longstanding anti-Semitic trope and one of the pillars of modern anti-Semitism ..."

It wasn't the first example of Omar's willingness to traffic in these anti-Semitic themes. Just weeks ago she had to defend a 2012 tweet in which she claimed, "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel."

Amidst calls for her to resign, she, like the men in Virginia, apologized but is also defiant, tweeting: "Listening and learning, but standing strong."

That's another parallel in these two troubling tales: ignorance. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring blamed his college blackface on "ignorance and glib attitudes." Northam has also suggested he needs to educate himself on the history of racism in America. If a recent interview with Gayle King is any indication, he has a ways to go; she had to correct him that the term was "slavery," not "indentured servitude."

Omar also admitted she needs an education, responding to New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss, "you are correct when you say, 'Perhaps Ms. Omar is sincerely befuddled and not simply deflecting,' " in failing to grasp why her "hypnotized" comments were so offensive.

But for all the similarities, there's an important difference between Omar and the two Virginia politicians. While many Democrats in Virginia--including African Americans--say Northam and Herring's policies have been good for black people, Omar supports one policy that is patently bad for Jews.

BDS is a pro-Palestinian movement to punish Israel through boycotts, divestment and sanctions. She is one of only two House members--Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib is the other--to support it. As the ADL describes it, "many of the founding goals of the BDS movement, including denying the Jewish people the universal right of self-determination, along with many of the strategies employed in BDS campaigns, are anti-Semitic."

To be clear, the BDS movement is not just a criticism of Israeli policy. I spoke with editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin last week, who said millions of Israeli Jews wake up every morning and criticize Israeli policy. BDS, on the other hand, is about demonizing and delegitimizing Jews and a Jewish state--as Tobin reminds, "the only Jewish state on the planet."

Ignorance isn't a sin--though we'd presumably expect our elected officials, from the president on down, to know something about the important histories of racism and anti-Semitism.

But ignorance can't explain Omar and Tlaib's support for a movement whose anti-Semitism is plainly stated and painfully obvious.

They've apologized for their tweets. Will we hold them accountable for their policies?


S.E. Cupp is the host of Unfiltered on CNN.

Editorial on 02/18/2019

Print Headline: S.E. CUPP: Ignorance all around


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  • Skeptic1
    February 18, 2019 at 8:28 a.m.

    The veil has been lifted to expose the history and core of the Democrat Party's racism, sexism, and antisemitism. The party that fought to preserve slavery, instituted Jim crow, and fought against the Civil Rights Act has never changed, they just learned Orwellian Double-speak. If they call you a racist first you can't call them out on theirs. The Democrats are the modern Plantation that needs a permanent victim underclass to survive, and as long as women and minorities stay on the Plantation the Massa will protect them, cross the line though they will destroy you.

  • RobertBolt
    February 18, 2019 at 9:50 a.m.

    Too many seek for political purposes to conflate the state of Israel with the Jewish people, failing to recognize that opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu's government is no more inherently anti-Semitic than opposition to Fidel Castro's government was anti-Hispanic.

  • RobertBolt
    February 18, 2019 at 9:58 a.m.

    Skeptic, on the other hand, turns virtually every topic into their tired, indefensible support of racism by conflating the long-defunct Dixiecrats with present-day Southern Republicans, as though repetition alone proves their specious claim, however often and easily debunked.

  • Packman
    February 18, 2019 at 10:02 a.m.

    Hey Robertbolt - Problem is Omar and Tlaib have expressed sentiment that is patently antiSemitic to the Jewish state and it’s people and not the government. Are you defending their past statements in this regard? Also, the article explains to some of xtent how the BDS movement does much more than merely oppose Netanyahu’s government.
    And allow me to make a prediction: robertbolt will also defend and/or deflect from Jussie Smollett’s despicable TDS inspired hoax.

  • mrcharles
    February 18, 2019 at 5:22 p.m.

    The party awoke before dawn and put their boots on, they walked on down to the church and preached that the ancient book contained only the divine words of the boss of bosses. Yes you , salt of the earth may have slaves, sell, buy and barter them, and if you look there is law on the security agreements covering creations of the creator.

    Yes , there are witches and we have to burn them said the pious celestial decoders. Later we learned there were not witches, but the text remains to be worshiped every day by the believers.

    The church run by jesus's vicar here on earth was pious in baptizing indian babies before their heads were bashed in. the adults could be just shot.

    Yes sir, the veil has been lifted with both the papist and baptist , oh I am sorry , did I offend you , the southern baptist [ dont think have to explain why that particular designation is so welcomed in the dixie land], are the ones who say follow me, but follow to what hate, misery, hypocrisy, and dont forget to say grace but hate your next door neighbor. Great support is by the people who are trump supporters who revere these incantations from an ancient book. Finally DT did good service to this country by bringing them out into the daylight to be cleansed from their disease they cause the body politic.

    The gop , you know how evolution works, the racism of the south evolved into a septic tank type of ideology, and using modern code words, Look there goes a car chase and the wonder of the world, Fox entertainment to handle snakes and drink poison , that is of the gop type.

    Netanyahu government, has a few problems. Him. Read your bibble about the man who created a world wide religion who helped create a way to justify normally intelligent people to slaughter people due to their particular sky god belief. These people hold Israel in great reverence [ though keep trying to reverse their beliefs] so that when the mushroom clouds happen , hallelujah , the anti-christ comes, though not a word of that is in the OT but only in the drug induced dream of the NT.

    Massa, isnt that a gop plank ? Seems to me , septic tank you might want to listen to a few gop ilks and their views of the uppities who inhabit our country when they say they, why they can be lawyers and doctors and such... yes listen to the real stories, a good one in last sunday's paper... was she a liar.

    a septic tank by any other name smells just as rank. a racist by any other name is a racist.

  • RobertBolt
    February 18, 2019 at 6:02 p.m.

    Can I get a copy of that graven in stone and delivered by a guy who took forty years to walk a few furlongs?

  • LRCrookAtty
    February 18, 2019 at 7:14 p.m.

    Robertbolt..." of racism by conflating the long-defunct Dixiecrats with present-day Southern Republicans..."
    The exact same way that illiterate democrats try to make people believe that they have not left their days of racist beliefs. Both parties have members that are racist, but the democrats are much more hateful and will call you names (racist, misogynist etc...) just because you don't agree with them on any given issue.

  • LRCrookAtty
    February 18, 2019 at 7:16 p.m.

    Robertbolt..." of racism by conflating the long-defunct Dixiecrats with present-day Southern Republicans..."
    The exact same way that illiterate democrats try to make people believe that they have not left their days of racist beliefs. Both parties have members that are racist, but the democrats are much more hateful and will call you names (racist, misogynist etc...) just because you don't agree with them on any given issue.
    "...however often and easily debunked."
    NEVER! It has never been debunked and cannot be. The main reason is because you do not know the hearts of the people that are in the parties today. You just know who agrees with you and who does not agree with you.

  • LRCrookAtty
    February 18, 2019 at 7:23 p.m.

    The problem is that Christianity and Jews have evolved into modern humans and realized that their ancestors were wrong for a lot of their beliefs. However, the Muslims still believe that women are less of a person, that gays should be killed and anyone that makes fun of muhammad must be put to death. Only the non-practicing Muslims do not believe this. Let's say that only 1% of them believe this, that leaves 16-20 million that wants you, me and all of us DEAD! That is scary. Christians just believe that you will pay after you die (naturally or by some other means not caused by them) you will pay for "sins." Christians made lots of mistakes, and many of the faith still do, but they have grown to realize their mistakes and live in the 21st century, unlike the radical muslims (of which there are more than 16 million).

  • RobertBolt
    February 18, 2019 at 7:34 p.m.

    You are going to have to dance with your own straw man, LR. I never claimed any party had no racists, but I do believe racists are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans. Trump is a racist strongly supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats, after all.