U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came to the defense of fellow progressive Ilhan Omar on Tuesday, questioning what she says are “hurtful” double standards.
“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,” she wrote in a series of Twitter posts, using a gender-neutral term popular among some progressives to refer to Latinos.
Ocasio-Cortez pointed to one heated exchange in which Republican congressman Jason Smith shouted “go back to Puerto Rico!” while fellow lawmaker Tony Cardenas waited to speak on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Cardenas, a Democrat representing California, is Mexican-American. Smith has since apologized, according to Cardenas.
“It’s not my position to tell people how to feel, or that their hurt is invalid,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “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?’”
The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a Democratic resolution condemning anti-Semitism after Omar made remarks critical of some lawmakers’ support for Israel. The resolution does not point to Omar by name.
“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,” Omar said at a progressive town hall in Washington D.C. last Wednesday.
Her comments sparked outrage from some within Congress, including Democratic House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel who called them “unacceptable and deeply offensive.”
While the freshman congresswoman apologized last month for comments critical of the power of pro-Israel lobby groups, she refused to do so this time.
“I am told every day that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks,” she wrote on Twitter. “I have not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel. I have questioned it and that has been clear from my end.”
Omar, who is one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, has been the target of hatred.
Last week, the chairwoman of West Virginia’s Republican Party denounced an anti-Muslim poster on display in the state’s capitol during a Republican event.
It contained two juxtaposed images: one of Omar and another showing planes flying into the World Trade Center in reference to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. in which nearly 3,000 victims were killed.
“‘Never forget’ – you said..” the caption on the photo of the Twin Towers read as Omar’s picture stood beneath captioned with the following: “I am the proof you have forgotten.”