Republicans gave Rep. Ilhan Omar an even bigger platform by voting her off the Foreign Affairs Committee

OPINION: What they have done is empowered her in front of the entire nation, and she is boldly stepping into that role with her shoulders squared and with the support of the entire Democratic caucus. 

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

If Republicans thought that voting to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from the House Foreign Affairs Committee would shut her up or slow her down, then they have no idea what’s about to hit them next. Because the truth of the matter is that they are so wrapped up in advancing an anti-Black, anti-Muslim, anti-woman, anti-immigrant, extremist agenda that they inadvertently gave Rep. Omar an even bigger platform by effectively making her a martyr.

The nation watched as Republicans made the colossal mistake of striking back at Democrats by unceremoniously targeting Rep. Omar and claiming that she was unfit to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Their argument was that somehow, some way the congresswoman was more of a threat than the extremist, white nationalists who have threatened and perpetuated violence against the president and their colleagues in Congress. Y’all know exactly who I’m talking about — Reps. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga, both of whom Democrats removed from committee positions in the last Congress. You know, the two members who spoke at a pro-Hitler event and threatened Black and brown Congress members while promoting antisemetic conspiracy theories. So, it’s important that everyone reading the headlines understands that there is no equivalency here. These two things are not the same. 

According to reports, a couple of Republicans have already communicated a clear understanding of just how dumb the public attack and vote against Ilhan Omar was. They called it the “stupidest vote in the world” and noted that the expulsion would make Omar a martyr. Y’all know the saying: Even a broken clock is right twice a day. But those realizations didn’t stop Republicans from attacking her nor did it stop them from supporting the resolution. 

And while Republicans came to grips with the impact of their idiocy behind closed doors, Democrats lined up to not only call out the blatant hypocrisy of Republicans’ actions, but to also extol the leadership and abilities of Rep. Omar. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes, D-N.Y., called out the fact that, “This is all about targeting women of color,” something she knows all too well as her life was threatened by Rep. Gosar. And Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., emphatically declared that, “Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is right where she belongs. Her words in Congress [are] needed…”

In no uncertain terms, Democrats let Omar know that they’ve got her back. And when Rep. Omar stepped up to the dais, she reminded us all of who she is — a refugee, civil war survivor, muslim, Black woman and third-term member of Congress who will hold her head high. Omar made it plain that this attack was about who gets to be an American, and she asked, “Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted? Is anyone surprised that I am somehow deemed unworthy to speak about American foreign policy or that they see me as a powerful voice that needs to be silenced? Frankly, it is to be expected…” And in closing, Rep. Omar rejected every ounce of Republicans’ desire to be rid of her while pointing to a picture of her 9-year-old self as she declared, “My leadership and voice will not be diminished if I am not on this committee for one term. My voice will get louder and stronger, and be celebrated around the world…I am here to stay…” And to poetically punctuate Omar’s statement, Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries moved immediately to seat her on the House Budget Committee.

So, if Republicans had any inkling of a thought that Ilhan Omar would be diminished or denied by this hypocritical move, they better promptly disabuse themselves of that notion. What they’ve done is empowered her in front of the entire nation, and she is boldly stepping into that role with her shoulders squared and with the support of the entire Democratic caucus. 

Rep. Omar is here to stay. She is here to lead. And she is going to keep fighting.

Juanita Tolliver

Juanita Tolliver is the host of Crooked Media’s “What A Day” Podcast, and an MSNBC political analyst.

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