On Friday, an event meant to bring the West Virginia GOP together at the state capitol resulted in Muslim-bashing, a literal fight, and resignations. Among the displays at the “Republicans Take the Rotunda” event, there was a poster of Ilhan Omarthat featured a caption reading “‘Never forget’ – you said” over a picture of an explosion coming out of the World Trade Center and another reading “I am the proof you have forgotten” over a picture of Omar sitting in the House of Representatives.
— (((Mike Pushkin))) (@pushkinforhouse) March 1, 2019
Democratic lawmaker Mike Caputo reportedly injured a doorkeeper in a heated exchange, and several other lawmakers got into an argument with the Republican sergeant at arms, Anne Lieberman, after she reportedly said that “all Muslims are terrorists,” according to NBC News. Lieberman resigned by the end of the day on Friday.
We could go into the details of why this poster is idiotic and ask what the hell a Somali refugee has to do with a terrorist attack carried out by people from a completely different continent, but anti-Muslim smears like this aren’t based in logic or reality so there’s no reason to treat it with that much credit. The poster was reportedly supplied bu the anti-Muslim hate group ACT for America, and according to NPR, the responses from state Republicans ranged from condemnation to citation of the First Amendment.
For her part, Omar responded on Twitter saying, “No wonder why I am on the ‘Hitlist’ of a domestic terrorist and ‘Assassinate Ilhan Omar’ is written on my local gas stations,” referring to a right-wing domestic terrorism plot that was foiled in February.
Meanwhile, the same day, a high-profile Democrat yet again called Omar anti-Semitic for her critique of influential pro-Israel lobbying. At a town hall, referring to the tremendous power of lobbying groups like AIPAC, Omar said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
In response, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Eliot L. Engel, who last year received over $150,000 in campaign contributions from pro-Israel groups, said in a statement, “Her comments were outrageous and deeply hurtful, and I ask that she retract them, apologize, and commit to making her case on policy issues without resorting to attacks that have no place in the Foreign Affairs Committee or the House of Representatives.”
While several Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Pramila Jayapal have both voiced their support and solidarity with Omar in the face of anti-Muslim slurs, as of Sunday Eliot hasn’t publicly weighed in on that topic.