Howard Schultz Is Living In A Fantasy World

AUSTIN, Texas — Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO who’s mulling an independent run for president, is pleasant, enthusiastic, and eager. He has a calm voice and a soothing manner. He seems like a great boss, business mentor, and buddy.

The 65-year-old lifelong Democrat is not so much an anti-Trump as a bizzaro-world Trump—an affable, tolerant billionaire who wears jeans and stylish blazers and doesn’t want to talk about divisive social issues. He wants to talk about technology, innovation, and how to help the middle class with smart, technocratic government. He’s like a white Obama, an older Beto, a less dour-faced Michael Bloomberg.

In other words it’s not clear why anyone, in 2020, would want Schultz to be president.

Last week, he toured Texas, ostensibly to promote his new book, “From the Ground Up,” but really to hype his still-unannounced run for president as a centrist independent. At an event in Dallas, Schultz said Democrats are being pulled too far to the left with a “socialistic agenda,” and that disaffection with Trump in the GOP is growing—hence his rationale for running down the middle as a political outsider:

“There are millions of lifelong Republicans—based on the president’s character and leadership qualities, or lack thereof—who would not go into the voting booth and vote for a Democrat resembling a socialist but might, just might, have an interest in a person who is independent and who is not beholden to either party.”

That’s a bold gamble to make about a voting public that seems increasingly tribal and partisan, but it does follow a certain logic. Schultz is after all doing what Democrats should have done. When Trump won the White House, the path back to power for Democrats was fairly obvious, given Trump’s obvious weaknesses. They needed to be the sober, capable party. They needed to emphasize good governance and transparency. They needed to be the adults in the room.

They couldn’t do it. Upon winning the House in 2018, Democrats have fallen headlong into a spiral of anti-capitalist fantasies, infanticide, and Weimar-era prejudices. Instead of exercising deft control over her caucus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi can’t even get House Democrats to pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in the wake of freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar’s most recent deployment of vile anti-Semitic tropes.

Schultz Doesn’t Want to Accept Divisions

Schultz is certainly correct that most Americans aren’t interested in a Democratic presidential candidate who’ll be forced into supporting the Green New Deal and late-term abortion while acquiescing to the anti-Jewish ravings of the party’s far-left base.

The party certainly looks like it could end up with such a candidate. On Friday, the same day Schultz was in Austin meeting with veterans and women entrepreneurs ahead of an appearance at SXSW, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, arguably an early frontrunner for her party’s nomination, announced a regulatory plan that would break up tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Whatever the merits of Warren’s plan, she at least knows her constituency.

At the roundtable in Austin, Schultz was curious and attentive. He asked pointed questions and generously gave advice to the assembled entrepreneurs. But nothing about his demeanor and tone suggested he has a compelling message for American voters. Seeing him up close, above all one wonders who is Schultz’s core constituency? The dwindling number of moderate Democrats turned off by their party’s excesses? Never-Trumpers? Other billionaires? Schultz’s big problem is that he has no identifiable base heading into an election cycle that will be defined by extremes.

On his Texas tour, Schultz said he thinks all 50 states could be in play next year, including the Lone Star State, a big reason he was there last week. Beto O’Rourke’s narrow loss to Sen. Ted Cruz in November not only buoyed Democrats’ hopes of turning Texas blue, it also convinced Schultz that he has a chance in Texas, too.

But he’ll have to do more than present himself as a reasonable Democrat from a bygone era if he even wants to be the next Ross Perot, whom Schultz invoked during his remarks in Dallas. More than anything, Schultz’s pre-presidential campaign has so far shown how out of touch he is with the American mood, especially the mood among liberals who hate Trump and see Schultz as nothing but a white billionaire spoiler who’ll siphon votes away from the Democratic nominee.

At a “book event” in Seattle last month, Schultz said he thinks we can “agree to disagree without having such a toxic, angry conversation.” One wonders why, surveying the landscape of American public life in 2019, he thinks this. Asked by the moderator, “What if this puzzle of belonging is just a lot harder than someone running for president as an independent?… What if we’re too polarized, too divided?”

Schultz replied, “I agree with your assessment that there is a level of division. But sitting here today, I don’t want to accept that.”

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Author: John Daniel Davidson

Which Jokes From ‘The Office’ Are Problematic?

Spurred by a recent Bill Burr rant, I was going to create a list of problematic jokes from “The Office,” until I realized the only correct answer to the question in my headline is “all of them.” There can be no tongue-in-cheek list of offensive scenes, because you either recognize Michael Scott (or Dwight Schrute or Todd Packer or Kevin Malone or Angela Martin or Andy Bernard or Jan Levinson or Ryan Howard) as satire, or you don’t. If you don’t, “The Office” is just a nine-season platform for naked bigotry. That sounds absurd because it is, but it’s also really not hyperbole when you consider the arguments that have been made against the show.

Here’s Decider on “Diversity Day” from a masterpiece entitled “5 Episodes of ‘The Office’ That Are Totally Problematic in 2018”:

“In the episode, we learn that corporate has sent over a speaker to hold a meeting regarding diversity after a very negative response over Michael’s imitation of Chris Rock’s routine (you know which one). And because Michael Scott is who he is, he holds his own diversity training session, which gets a tad bit out of hand. Michael’s meeting ends up being so racist that I can’t believe anyone ever thought this episode was funny. Undoubtedly, Michael Scott is the worst person to lead a meeting on diversity even if he is ‘two-fifteenths Native American.’”

The joke is quite literally that Michael Scott is the worst person to lead a meeting on diversity. That is why it’s funny. To argue it’s racist is to argue the joke was about the people Michael crudely stereotyped, rather than about Michael’s crude stereotyping. If you don’t see Michael as a tool to satirize ignorance, you basically have to write off the entire series as a bigoted nightmare given his persistent racism and sexism, which was always the joke itself.

Here’s Decider, again, on a memorable episode from season 3:

“This list could not be complete without mentioning one of the series’ many Christmas specials. In terms of being problematic, ‘Benihana Christmas’ comes to mind mainly because Michael (are we surprised?) can’t remember which Benihana waitress was supposed to be his ‘new girlfriend.’ He literally looks at the two women and can’t tell them apart. What’s even worse is that Michael marks his waitress with a sharpie so he can recognize her.”

Clearly the joke was that Michael operates off ridiculous, racist stereotypes, not that those stereotypes are actually real. More importantly, the effect of the joke is to show how ignorant and stupid it looks to operate off racist stereotypes. Like all good satire, the bit serves a purpose.

Others have argued it’s the show’s sympathetic framing of Michael that makes it retrospectively problematic. “The satirical components of NBC’s The Office suffer because the show had to fit the premise’s inherent mean-spiritedness into the mold of a traditional American sitcom,” one writer argued last year in The A.V. Club. “As such, Michael and Dwight had to both maintain a sense of comedic consistency in terms of character while also remaining ‘likable’ by network TV standards. And the effort of maintaining ‘likability’ across nine seasons inevitably leads to sentimentality. Whatever bite that once existed is bound to lose its fangs.” A similar argument is made here.

This, again, is an argument against the entire show. The effect of making Michael likable is that he illustrates how good people are capable of horrible, outdated behavior. That’s actually a timely lesson, given the growing impulse to dismiss anyone who’s ever committed a thoughtcrime from polite society.

Here’s how one writer in GQ contemplated the dilemma:

“There’s a voice in my head telling me I’m reading too much into this. I am telling myself that, despite my knowing and writing that the abusers on the show are the villains and not the heroes, I just don’t get it. That I’m taking it too seriously and have lost the ability to find humor in the situation, in reality. And honestly, that’s about right. I have lost that ability. Years of watching and enduring and living with the behavior they’re skewering make the jokes turn to ash. Times have changed, and I can’t look at Michael, Jim, or anyone else the same way. I don’t want to be this way. This was done to me.”

This is the Hannah Gadsby argument, that “punch lines need trauma because punch lines need tension, and tension feeds trauma.” While it’s actually a more coherent position, it’s still a serious threat to satire—and by its own admission. (Gadsby quit comedy.) If that sounds dramatic, it’s because the threat is probably more immediate than we realize. Consider that Steve Carell himself recently wondered whether it would be “impossible” to do “The Office” today.

“I mean, the whole idea of that character, Michael Scott, so much of it was predicated on inappropriate behavior. I mean, he’s certainly not a model boss. A lot of what is depicted on that show is completely wrong-minded. That’s the point, you know?” Carell told Esquire. “But I just don’t know how that would fly now. There’s a very high awareness of offensive things today—which is good, for sure. But at the same time, when you take a character like that too literally, it doesn’t really work.”

Satire is rendered useless. Maybe you’re fine with that. Most people probably aren’t. But if Carell himself legitimately questions whether a program so widely loved as “The Office” could work just less than a decade after it went off the air, it seems plausible networks and show creators are asking themselves that too. (For a glimpse into our humorless future, consider this year’s woke, strategically anodyne Golden Globes.) Who knows what we’ll miss out on, or already are, because of those attitudes. The fight over political correctness can seem like an abstract media debate, but it’s already much more consequential.

It’s helpful to return to the GQ critic’s argument. “The problem,” she contended, “is that the victims of these shenanigans in The Office, whether it’s Michael forwarding joke e-mails about child molestation to his employees or Dwight saying whatever sexist and homophobic things he believes, never get their day.”

But they do. They get it every time Michael or Dwight or Todd says something offensive and millions of people laugh at their ignorance, further reinforcing our shared notions of right and wrong, and bolstering our boundaries of acceptable conduct. The jokes have a point, and it’s a necessary one.

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Author: Emily Jashinsky

Max Boot, Bye-Bye

Max Boot has announced he is no longer a conservative. In cosmic time, the shocking announcement came at the exact moment in racist, russia-collusionist Donald Trump’s administration that black unemployment reached its lowest level ever. Like famed boxer Cassius Clay, Trump may be The Greatest, at everything, ever—but he sure makes a lousy racist.

Mr. Boot explains in a Washington Post op-ed:

It would be nice to think that Donald Trump is an anomaly who came out of nowhere to take over an otherwise sane and sober movement. …

Upon closer examination, it’s obvious that the history of modern conservatism is permeated with racism, extremism, conspiracy-mongering, isolationism and know-nothingism. … There has always been a dark underside to conservatism that I chose for most of my life to ignore.

Oh, please. Even a 50-year-old should have more perspective.

That there were some racists active in the early days of modern conservatism, and now too, should not surprise—Trump having been no more successful than William F. Buckley, Jr., at abolishing original sin. However, Buckley, widely considered to be the founder of modern conservatism, did succeed in hiving off the anti-Semites and the fanatical John Birchers.

But the long story is complicated. It is true, as Boot says, that Buckley’s National Review railed against President Dwight Eisenhower for being insufficiently anticommunist and insufficiently anti-New Deal. Why was that wrong?

Basking now in post-Cold War comfort, it is easy—and a cheap trick—to criticize the policies of an earlier period. We cannot know, now, what a more robust policy (Goldwater’s?) of resistance to the communists might have delivered: perhaps a savings of billions of taxpayer dollars (is there any other kind?) which could have been spent … elsewhere? In retrospect, US policy (Reagan’s building up the military, especially the navy) turned out pretty well, certainly for the United States if not for the millions of people starved, gulaged, and killed behind the Iron Curtain.

But probably it was wholly proper for us to be concerned only about ourselves, not about the millions subjected to communist rule from the 1950s to the 1990s. Raise your hand if that reminds you of America First? Or of isolationism?

Buckley and National Review also railed against Eisenhower’s disinterest in rolling back the New Deal—indeed, Buckley essentially defined conservatives as people who had not made their peace with the New Deal. But he was overly optimistic, in 1955, noting that “the [liberal] Establishment has failed in its efforts to ease over to the federal government the primary responsibility for education, or health, or even housing.”

There’s been a lot of easing over since 1955. Now our primary and high school education system is a mess wholly run by the Democratic Party’s teachers’ unions; and our colleges teach almost nothing while miring students in debt that now exceeds the cost of Mr. Boot’s beloved Iraq war.

It is often said that President Reagan was a convert to the New Deal. That’s not entirely true. He recognized the obligation of Social Security to pay the people who had paid into the system, but knew also that there was a better way: to “privatize” it, at least for people who had the discipline to build their own retirement funds. And Reagan was an early deregulator.

The Civil Rights period is more complex. Buckley’s position has been explored extensively by William Voegeli in The Claremont Review. The worst that can be said about Buckley is that he was late coming to the realization that some federal involvement was necessary to secure equality for blacks.

But his remark in 1961, that he hoped that “when the Negroes have finally realized their long dream of attaining to the status of the white man, the white man will still be free….” was prescient. Lincoln thought preserving the Union, even with slavery, would eventually be better for blacks. Buckley thought limited, constitutional government (what Goldwater had in mind when he voted against Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) would be better for everyone, including blacks.

You want racism? Try this, from New York Times columnist Charles Blow: “The founders, a bunch of rich, powerful white men, didn’t want true democracy in this country, and in fact were dreadfully afraid of it. Now, a bunch of rich, powerful white men want to return us to this sensibility, wrapped in a populist ‘follow the Constitution’ rallying cry and disguised as the ultimate form of patriotism.”

In any political movement there will be misfits and misanthropes, but it is immature to judge the whole by the part. Mr. Boot may be leaving the conservative side, but where is he going? The alternative is a socialist gulag, diminished First and Second Amendments, Orwellian speech codes, gender fluidity, and physical discomfort enforced by the climate police.

Have a good time, Mr. Boot.

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Author: Daniel Oliver

Top Democrat Tells Holocaust Survivors To Check Their Privilege

Democratic Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) defended his colleague Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) by reasoning that she is higher than Jews on the pyramid of intersectionality. In an interview with The Hill on Wednesday, Clyburn trivialized Holocaust survivors when he implied that Omar’s time in a Kenyan refugee camp outweighed the experiences of Jews.

Her experience, Clyburn argued, is much more empirical — and powerful — than that of people who are generations removed from the Holocaust, Japanese internment camps during World War II and the other violent episodes that have marked history.

“I’m serious about that. There are people who tell me, ‘Well, my parents are Holocaust survivors.’ ‘My parents did this.’ It’s more personal with her,” Clyburn said. “I’ve talked to her, and I can tell you she is living through a lot of pain.”

Clyburn is the third-highest ranking Democrat in the House, who has shared a stage with the notorious anti-semite Louis Farrakhan. According to Clyburn’s logic, it’s OK to hate Jews if you rank higher than them on the hierarchy of victimhood. Omar is a Muslim woman who was born in Somalia and had to flee violence in her country, so Democrats believe her hate speech should be excused, while Holocaust survivors should sit quiet.

Clyburn’s comments come during a fragmented week for Democrats, who failed to pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in the wake of Omar’s repeated anti-Semitic slurs. Clyburn, a prominent member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he rejected the idea that the proposed resolution would single Omar out for condemnation.

“She won’t be targeted. We’re going to target those people who had her picture on the Twin Towers,” Clyburn said. “This resolution is going to be inclusive; it’s going to be expansive; and I might just try to add something to deal with that billboard that’s up in Pennsylvania this morning calling John Lewis and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus racists.”

As Washington Free Beacon writer Alex Griswold pointed out, it’s contradictory to say the resolution is “expansive” and not intended to go after Omar specifically, but to also say it’s going to “target” certain groups.

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Author: Madeline Osburn

Luke Perry And The Strange Aging Of ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’

I was born after “Beverly Hills, 90210” hit television screens, but before Luke Perry made his brief mid-series exit. Experiencing the show now, in the wake of Perry’s sudden passing, and nearly three decades since the premiere, is an interesting experience. It feels like a parody.

West Beverly High is an astonishingly on-brand world of soapy dialogue, slinky guitar transitions, and precocious acting. Beautiful beaches and beautiful people. Beautiful cars, too. Characters say things like, “I hate jocks!” and surf away their mornings. Plot lines are fueled by a familiar but artful commingling of moralization and cliff-hanging.

It reminds me of the heavy-handed tapes middle school teachers played to impart wisdom about the pitfalls of binge drinking or bullying or promiscuity. They felt outdated even in the early aughts, and made for the kind of snickering that could be brought about only by an adult’s clumsy stab at relating to teens.

That’s how “90210” strikes me today. Yet I think the show might come across as parody to a twentysomething because it mastered a format that became the template. There’s something very quaint about its earnestness, a quality other shows built on, but perhaps never improved upon. Perry’s performance as Dylan McKay, from what I’ve seen, is a case in point.

Effortless isn’t just how you might describe his looks, it’s also an apt descriptor for his interpretation of McKay. Dylan isn’t a stud straining to seem human, and Perry isn’t a warm body with a handsome face slotted half-heartedly into the show to satisfy a hot guy quota. His complexities, even in the ridiculous world of teen soaps, come across movingly. That’s a feat. It’s likely what made performances like this one possible.

By the time I was a teenager, we had “The OC,” which ultimately paved the way for “Laguna Beach,” and “The Hills,” and it’s fair to wonder whether our appetites had changed for some reason or another. You could probably argue that “Laguna Beach” was just about as believable as “90210,” and with much less interesting characters. It was produced to draw out similarly soapy storylines, and the clothes and cars and beaches seem just as aspirational — larger than life, and purposefully so.

The intense earnestness, however, was gone, even in the overproduced version of reality MTV created for us. Evolution or devolution? (The iconic black tear drop that fell from Lauren Conrad’s left eye was slowed down in editing.)

“Melee at the Broward mall: 20 injured during surge for heartthrob Luke Perry,” is how the Sun-Sentinel headlined a 1991 article reporting on the stampede of teen girls that rushed the stage when Perry appeared at an autograph signing. Melee. A ballroom at a nearby Sheraton had to be repurposed as “holding area” for all the injured girls awaiting treatment. A 14-year-old broke her leg. (I don’t recall mobs rushing any “Laguna Beach” stars.)

It’s a remarkable story. The mere sight of Perry was enough to spark a literal mob of teenagers in a suburban shopping mall. Like “90210” itself, the report reads almost as parody. It’s so unbelievable, the whole thing could probably have been a plot line on the show. 

Seventeen-year-old Madeleine Pinzon, who watched faithfully every week, provided an instructive quote about Perry to the paper. “He’s just a nice guy who’s fine looking and who’s not afraid to show his feelings.” she said. “If all the guys in the world were like him, everything would be perfect.”

Everything would be perfect. Maybe relatability isn’t the goal of a teen soap. Maybe it’s the surrealism, the conquering of extraordinary circumstances by people with extraordinary looks and extraordinary personalities. That’s what makes you rush Luke Perry in a mall.

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Author: Emily Jashinsky

The Democratic Party Has Normalized Anti-Semitism

This week, the Democratic Party was unable to pass a watered-down, platitudinous resolution condemning anti-Semitism, due to “fierce backlash” from presidential candidates, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the now-powerful progressive base. Rather than censuring Rep. Ilhan Omar, the intellectually frivolous, Hamas-supporting freshman representative from Minnesota, she was rewarded and inoculated from party criticism.

More consequently, the Democrats deemed Protocols of Zion-style attacks a legitimate form of debate. That’s because Omar, despite what you hear, has repeatedly attacked Jews, not only Israel supporters, and certainly not only specific Israeli policies.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who would finally bring an “All Lives Matter” resolution to the floor, told reporters she didn’t believe the congresswoman’s comments were “intentionally anti-Semitic.” No educated human believes Omar inadvertently accused “Benjamin”-grubbing Rootless Cosmopolitans of hypnotizing the world for their evil. These are long-standing, conspiratorial attacks on the Jewish people, used by anti-Semites on right and left, and popular throughout the Islamic world.

Even the Democratic Party activist groups that typically cover for the Israel-haters, like the Anti- Defamation League, have condemned Omar. Yet it was the lie that coursed through the Democratic Party’s defense of Omar.

Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren claimed that “branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has had a chilling effect on our public discourse and makes it harder to achieve a peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians.” Either Warren believes that accusing Jews and their supporters of dual loyalty and sedition is a legitimate criticism of Israel, or she is deliberately mischaracterizing Omar’s comments to gain favor with the growing faction of anti-Semites in her party.

“We must not,” the socialist Bernie Sanders argued, “equate anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel” because such a thing would be “stifling” debate. Does anyone believe that if left-of-center Kahol Lavan were running Israel, Omar would be less inclined to smear the bipartisan squishes at AIPAC?

Omar has mentioned Benjamin Netanyahu (who, incidentally, is in every way more of a genuine liberal than either Sanders or Omar) once in her Twitter feed, and then only to use this very talking point to defend her comments. As a political matter, no major party in Israel is going allow an independent Palestinian state run by theocrats and terrorists to exist, so Omar and her allies will never be appeased.

Of course, no one argues that Omar’s speech should be curtailed or stifled. The same can’t be said of her defenders, however, who not only falsely claim criticism of her tropes is “chilling speech,” but also decided to transform this 38-year-old firebrand into a helpless, childlike victim.

“We all have a responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of hatred and bigotry, especially as we see a spike in hate crimes in America,” said Sen. Kamala Harris, who, like many Democrats, tried to dilute criticism of anti-Semitism in a torrent of phobias. “But like some of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, I am concerned that the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk.”

We shouldn’t exaggerate the prevalence of hate crimes in America, which is low, but it’s certainly worth pointing out that Jews are the target of 60 percent of those crimes—a far larger percentage than anyone else. In New York City, there have been at least 36 hate crimes against Jews so far this year so far. Shouldn’t Harris be more concerned about Omar’s rhetoric?

As Gad Saad noted yesterday, Omar’s brand of Israel criticism “is almost ALWAYS a cover of existential and definitional Jew-hatred.” This anti-Israel sentiment—opposition to the idea of a national Jewish state—is the most consequential form of anti-Semitism that exists in the world today. It has done more to undermine Jewish safety than all the dog whistles and white nationalist marches combined. Yet, many Democrats have now seemingly joined Corbynites and leftists around the world perpetuating this radicalism.

The normalization of Omarism is a long time coming. Omar’s defenders have been praising and participating in the Women’s March, led by Louis Farrakhan acolytes who believe Jewish people bear a special collective responsibility “as exploiters of black and brown people,” since Trump was elected. But it goes even further back.

When leaving the CBC meeting, “members formed a circle around Omar and Marcia Fudge literally stuck her arm out to prevent reporters from asking her questions. Then a few members hugged Omar, including Al Lawson.” It is unsurprising that Omar, who has great trouble answering simple questions, has the CBC running interference for her hatred. At least seven members of the CBC—a group seemingly immune from criticism—have coordinated and worked with Farrakhan, the anti-Semite preacher who believes “satanic” Jews are “termites” who “deserve to die.” Liberals keep telling me Farrakhan is just a conservative boogeyman, and yet his contingent is growing as Omar and allies like Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez join the ranks.

Democrats’ allies in media quickly came to Omar’s rescue, as well. The Washington Post ran three articles after Omar’s initial comments this week. All three defended her. “Want to combat hate? Stop the hazing of Ilhan Omar and start listening” wrote Wajahat Ali and Rabia Chaudry. Not only shouldn’t Jews censure Omar, the authors argued, they should shut up and listen to her wisdom. In the progressive worldview, Jews, who are successful and predominately white, should put up with a little bigotry for the common good.

As Rep James Clyburn (D-SC), who once also shared a stage with Farrakhan, noted, Omar should be given a free pass because she fled Somalia. “There are people who tell me, ‘Well, my parents are Holocaust survivors.’ ‘My parents did this.’ It’s more personal with her,” he explained. It’s personal to hate Jews when you fled Somalia? The number of people defending Omar on the risible grounds that Muslims should be immune from criticism isn’t surprising when you realize that identity politics demands strict adherence to the hierarchy of victimhood.

When New York Times reporters Sheryl Gay Stolberg (whose article in the aftermath of Omar’s dual loyalty remarks asked if Jewish people had too much power in Washington) and Glenn Thrush (who may or may not be taking diction from the Democratic National Committee) authored a piece about the resolution fight, they spent a large chunk of their space letting everyone know that President Donald Trump—whose daughter converted to Judaism and who moved the American embassy to Jerusalem and who stopped coddling the world’s most dangerous anti-Jewish terror-state—had also used anti-Semitic tropes.

While it’s not worth again debunking the fact that Trump never said neo-Nazis were “very fine people” or pointing out that most of the Jews at the Republican Jewish Coalition laughed at his jokes, it is worth mentioning that Democrats have embraced the worst kind of “whataboutism.”

NBC’s News’ Chuck Todd, in his “I’m obsessed with” segment, offered a jaw-droppingly misleading lecture accusing both parties of having an anti-Semitism problem by comparing elected officials like Omar and Tlaib — who have been embraced by their party, take part in policy making, and now widely defended on the mainstream left — to a fringe Nazi murderer who shot up a Pittsburgh synagogue, whom not a single Republican supports and has nothing to do with the GOP. The very fact that Todd was forced to shoehorn these comparisons is revealing.

In truth, Pelosi’s first watered-down resolution would have passed with most Republicans voting for it, and a number of Democrats defecting. This would have been embarrassing. So she promised to dilute it, and even that wasn’t enough for Democrats. Now, leadership is poised to pass some pointless resolution condemning all hatred.

Omar, an intellectual lightweight, is certainly a problem for America. But the fact that Democrats apparently believe what she says is fine is an absolute disaster.

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Author: David Harsanyi

The Democrats’ Resolution Condemning Anti-Semitism Is A Transparent Joke

Democrats’ draft measure condemning anti-Semitism, which the House will vote on this Wednesday, is a useless and transparent attempt to distract from a serious problem. The melodramatic resolution mentions Alfred Dreyfuss, Leo Frank, Henry Ford, and “anti-Muslim bigotry”—because, hey, even when Jews are being smeared it’s about Islamophobia—but not once does it condemn Rep. Ilhan Omar or the strain of Jew-hatred she is helping normalize on the left. The resolution, teeming with useless platitudes, is one that even Omar could probably support.

Omar argues that American “democracy is built on debate” and that she “should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.” No decent person disagrees with this comment in theory. Also, no sane person believes this contention, perpetually repeated by anti-Israel progressives, is true of Omar.

No one asked her, or anyone else, to pledge allegiance to a foreign nation. It’s her belief that supporting the Jewish state, a long-time ideological and geopolitical ally of the United States, is an act of dual loyalty — either by Jews themselves, or by those they’ve hypnotized to do “evil” for them. She is the one who accuses Jewish Americans, a group that has played a robust role in the nation’s civic life for a long time, of doing the bidding of a foreign nation to the detriment of their own.

Just as no one is forcing Omar to take a position on Israel, no one is attacking her right to free speech. This isn’t Gaza or Eritrea—a country Omar recently visited and was quite impressed by—where a dictatorship can arrest and torture citizens for taking unpopular positions. Here, others are allowed to call her out also. If Omar’s moral compass tells her to advocate for terrorists and theocrats, she’s free to do so. Americans are likewise free to point it out.

It’s worth remembering that it was only after a handful of Jewish Democrats like Eliot Engel objected to Omar’s comments that Pelosi was forced to act—or, rather, pretend to act. Even now, a number of pundits on the left, including columnists for the Washington Post and The Atlantic, argue that Omar—as well as fellow anti-Semite Rep. Rashida Tlaib—operate within the parameters of acceptable debate. Or take The New York Times’ alleged anti-Semitism expert, Jonathan Weisman, who’s probably never met a leftist Jew-hater he won’t defend. Then again, his newspaper has a rich history on this front. Omar could read portions of the Hamas Charter into the congressional record, and The New York Times would tell us her “latest remarks on Israel draw criticism.”

Another tactic taken up by Democrats, I’ve noticed, is trolling for supposedly anti-Semitic comments by Republicans to deflect and dilute the attention on Omar. On Monday Democrats found one such strawman, when the ranking member of the oversight committee, Jim Jordan, spelled liberal donor Tom Steyer’s name with a dollar sign in a tweet. Liberals across the media quickly took up the cause: “Gee whiz, what if Ilhan Omar had done this?!” Well, if Omar had inserted a dollar sign into the name of a supposedly Jewish donor, considering her history, we’d have to assume she’d was clumsily trying to make another bigoted comment.

But, generally speaking, there’s absolutely nothing anti-Semitic about pointing out that Steyer, and other activist billionaires, spends millions every cycle helping political causes. Steyer, perhaps more than any other activist in the nation, in fact, is known for advocating for the impeachment of Donald Trump. So when House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler issued document requests from more than 80 people and organizations in a massive trolling investigation for “obstruction,” Jordan reacted, as people in both political parties have always reacted, accusing the other party of being bought by a big donors and special interests.

In any event, according to this Men’s Journal feature, Steyer grew up with a non-practicing Jewish dad and became involved in the Episcopalian church when he was 40. I certainly had no idea that “$teyer” had any Jewish background. His surname isn’t Jewish. He’s not a supporter of Jewish causes. If anything, he’s been a long-time supporter of anti-Israel candidates and organizations.

Democrats who hear dog-whistles at every mention of “globalist” or whenever sugar daddies like George Soros are criticized, can’t get their ire up when one of their own drops tropes that sound like they’ve been pulled from Protocols of the Elders of Zion. As a wise person on Twitter recently pointed out, for Democrats, Steyer is Jewish, Soros is Jewish, Obama is Jewish, but Sheldon Adelson isn’t.

Congress, of course, really has no business setting guidelines for acceptable political speech. Pelosi does, however, have the power to name committee appointees. And with this power she decided to place a doltish Jew-hater with radical positions and absolutely no relevant experience on the House foreign affairs committee to appease the growing anti-Israel contingent in her party.

She did this knowing about Omar’s history of anti-Semitic tweets, radicalism, and support of Hamas. Last week, after Omar had been subjected to a slap on the wrist and offered a sham apology, Pelosi was mugging on the cover of the celebratory issue of Rolling Stone magazine with her and her bestie apologist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. These are “Women Shaping the Future,” says the Rolling Stone.

Yes, that is Pelosi’s legacy.

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Author: David Harsanyi

‘The Bachelor’s’ Fence Jump Has Finally Arrived

Starved for some semblance of authentic drama, “Bachelor” fans spent the entire season awaiting a blink-and-you-miss-it fence jump teased out in promotional clips. On Monday night’s Fantasy Suites episode, Colton Underwood finally did the deed. (No, not that one.)

The former NFL tight end leapt a hefty chunk of fence in Portugal after Cassie Randolph broke up with him at the urging of her father (who actually flew to Portugal for dramatic effect).

“I’m not in love. You know what I mean? I don’t know why after today I’m not,” she told Underwood. “I just feel like I’m having doubts about it. I don’t know why I’m so confused. I just feel like there’s a lot to think about.”

That was enough to send Underwood over the fence. After pushing a cameraman and tearing his mic off, the athletic bachelor scaled his wooden Everest and departed into the night, searching desperately for some all too elusive “alone time.”

It was a risk. He could have stumbled. He could have wiped out. But in the end, Underwood’s training paid off, making his exit look graceful and masculine all at once. Congratulations on a job well done, Colton. Bachelor Nation seems to have needed this.

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Author: Emily Jashinsky

Omar and AOC Don’t Get To Get To Define Anti-Semitism

Every few days I get a call from my dad. Last week, after catching up on family stuff and moving to the news, he asked me what a trope is, and why he’s been hearing the word so much in the past few weeks. I joked that “trope” is a word that is primarily used to make anti-Semitism sound not so bad.

That is to say, that when Rep. Ilhan Omar consistently says things that most Jews say are hurtful, it’s supposedly not anti-Semitic, but rather her “engaging in anti-Semitic tropes.”

So, what is a trope? Technically, it is the metaphorical or figurative use of a word or expression. So, in fact, my satirical definition wasn’t far off the mark. When the news media suggests that Omar is merely trading in tropes, they are absolving her of actual anti-Semitism. And it does seem to be uniquely used in this context — nobody suggested that by wearing blackface in the 1980s, Ralph Northam was engaging in a racist trope. He was just being a racist.

Omar, her colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and many others on the far left have argued that there is no anti-Semitism here. They say Omar is merely criticizing Israel and America’s policies towards it.

It is certainly true that one can criticize policy without being anti-Semitic, but that’s not what is going on here. Omar, for one, has said two very specific things that are flat-out anti-Semitic.

The first, harkening back to her claims that Israel is “hypnotizing the world,” is that Jews are using their money to buy off the American government’s support of Israel. She has falsely claimed that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has paid politicians to ignore right and wrong and simply do what their Jewish benefactors demand. This claim is absurd on its face and makes reference to centuries-old claims that greedy Jews are subverting decent society with their big bags of shekels.

The second claim is that American Jews who support Israel are engaged in dual loyalty. That their real allegiance is not to the United States but to Israel and Judaism. This is also an ancient and disquieting claim, one that Nazis used to great effect in convincing Germans that Jews weren’t really on their side.

Neither of these vicious and pernicious claims has the slightest thing to do with actual American policy towards Israel — a subject on which Omar and Ocasio-Cortez are oddly quiet, for all their cackling about Jewish influence. Rather, they are blatant attacks on Jews that claim they are not acting in good faith. The idea here is that Jews and others who support Israel don’t actually care about preserving a homeland for a historically marginalized global minority, but seek only to oppress Palestinians.

In no way, shape, or form is saying that Jews are buying off the government and have dual loyalty mere tropes. They aren’t metaphors, they aren’t figurative, they are literal statements, and, yes, they are very anti-Semitic. But frankly, as bad as the anti-Semitism itself is, arguably worse is that they are telling Jews that it isn’t. They are arrogantly claiming to understand what anti-Semitism is better than Jews do themselves.

Who gets to decide what is anti-Semitic? Who gets to decide what is racist, or sexist? Do the targets of the slurs and attacks get any say in this? If a black person tells a white person she said something racist and hurtful, is it appropriate to say, “That’s just a metaphor, and by the way my broader point is correct?” It obviously is not, and that’s something that Omar and AOC would undoubtedly agree with.

But we’re just talking about Jews. You can say whatever you want about Jews. After all, as Ocasio-Cortez recently said, Jews are basically just white people complicit in white supremacy, a bizarre claim that helps elucidate why she turns a blind eye to Omar’s anti-Semitism.

Yet, as progressives who usually claim to be worried about the harmful impact of hurtful words, they seem not to care in the least that the largest rise (by far) in hate crimes in the United States over the past few years have been against Jews. In AOC’s own city of New York there is an epidemic of anti-Semitic assaults on ultra-Orthodox Jews. Is it possible––and I’m just spit-balling here––that the kind of rhetoric they use about greedy Jews abusing the system fuels some of this hatred? Do they care?

When I was in middle school, I played on a local football team. One day we arrived for a game and found banners full of insults and curse words directed at our team, presumably done by the other team. My dad, who worked as a private investigator, quickly sussed out that our coaches had put them there. He confronted them, and a scuffle ensued. I will never forget a coach yelling at my dad that he was a Jew who should go back to his own country before punching him the face. That has become almost a weekly occurrence in Brooklyn.

As someone of Jewish descent, I want to make one thing perfectly clear to both Omar and Ocasio-Cortez: You don’t get to decide what is and isn’t anti-Semitic. Claiming that Jews are buying influence and are not loyal Americans is anti-Semitic. It’s not a trope, it’s a slur.

Each and every time Omar says this, she puts Jews in danger, and she needs to stop it. Now. Here’s a simple hint: When lots of Jews of all political stripes say you are being anti-Semitic, you probably are. Omar and Ocasio-Cortez must cease defending these insults, and listen to the millions of American Jews they are insulting.

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Author: David Marcus

Democrats Need To Bounce Rep. Ilhan Omar Off The Foreign Affairs Committee, Stat

Democrats wanted to shake things up in Washington, and they have. This new Congress has raised all sorts of questions I never knew I needed to be answered, such as: How many blatantly anti-Semitic comments can a Democratic rising star make before members of her own party criticize her? And how many such statements can she make before Democrats take any action?

Minnesota’s Rep. Ilhan Omar has helped answer that first question. Apparently, a member of Congress must find herself at the center of not one, but two anti-Semitic tweet controversies in the course of three weeks. It wasn’t Omar’s 2012 tweet charging that Israel had hypnotized the world, but her alleging that members of Congress support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship because they’ve been bribed that summoned a strong response.

The House Democratic leadership issued a statement denouncing the relevant tweets the following day. Notably, however, there was no mention of Omar resigning her seat on the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) in that text. Nor did any Democrat on HFAC choose to respond on the record after those incidents, when I sought comment. Top Jewish groups just this morning demanded that Omar be removed from the committee.

When CNN’s Manu Raju queried House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she responded, “A newcomer member of Congress has apologized for her remarks. It took them what, 13 years to notice Steve King?” Now, Republicans could have moved faster in removing King from his committee positions, but they did finally act.

Is Pelosi insisting that Omar and any other new member of Congress be given a 13-year grace period before venomous remarks are punished in any meaningful way? As a voter, I find that repulsive. As someone who previously had the honor of serving at the U.S. State Department, I consider this disgraceful.

Rather than engage the charges against Omar on the merits, Pelosi embraced what-about-ism. The contrast doesn’t serve Pelosi well, since there’s currently no indication she’ll ever take action against Omar for comments as reprehensible as King’s.

Congressional foreign policy oversight is important. It should be taken seriously and conducted by thoughtful individuals who not only love America but also champion our national interests and strong alliances around the world.

Appointing Omar to the committee was eyebrow-raising from the get-go, after she had sought sentencing leniency for Minnesotan men who joined the Islamic State terrorist group. As “Abdirahman Yasin Daud, [who] was facing over 30 years in prison,” acknowledged, “‘I was not going there to pass out medical kits or food. I was going strictly to fight and kill on behalf of the Islamic State.’”

Since beginning her tenure on HFAC, Omar has exhibited interest in defining down Venezeulan dictator Nicolas Maduro’s harm to his own people and attacking our most reliable ally in the Middle East. Omar has said nothing that indicates she is capable of fair-mindedness where Israel is concerned.

Omar also maligns Americans who support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, as she did last Wednesday during a progressive town hall at Washington’s Busboys and Poets restaurant:

‘So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,’ Rep. Omar exclaimed, seeming to suggest, as Tlaib had in a tweet of her own, dual loyalty among a particular group of Americans. Loud rounds of applause and shouts of affirmation punctuated the event’s heavy focus on Israel.

This latest controversy continued on Twitter on Sunday. Fellow Democrat Rep. Nita Lowey tweeted in favor of “debate w/o prejudice or bigotry,” which led to Omar tweeting, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.” Lowey responded by noting that no one had asked such a thing of Omar, nor of any other member of Congress.

Suggesting that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than our own country is not only false, but also classically anti-Semitic. There have always been individuals who made such charges, similar to the anti-Catholic bigotry John F. Kennedy faced when running for president nearly 60 years ago.

However, these sentiments are not being expressed by anonymous crackpots on street corners or online. They’re being voiced by sitting members of Congress, including one with a plum committee assignment, where her warped views can directly influence American foreign policy. Talk about normalizing hate.

In a through the looking glass moment at that same Busboys and Poets event, Omar remarked, “What I am fearful of, because both Rashida [Tlaib] and I are Muslim, is that a lot of our Jewish colleagues and constituents go to thinking that everything we say about Israel is anti-Semitic because we are Muslim . . . It’s something designed to end the debate.”

That Jews are now being accused of being overly sensitive amidst rising anti-Semitism or called Islamophobic for pointing out blatant anti-Semitism is the ultimate example of gaslighting. Many efforts have been made to quietly address concerns with Omar in her district, in the halls of Congress, and by Democratic leaders. And no one is shutting down any debate. Omar and Tlaib haven’t themselves sought to debate ideas as much as vilify large groups of their own countrymen who think differently.

This brings us back to my second question: How many anti-Semitic comments can Omar make before she’s ejected from the House Foreign Affairs Committee? I ask because you know there’ll be another (and another).

At this point, it should be clear that Omar’s comments aren’t one-off moments of misspeaking; they’re reflections of a worldview hostile to Jews. Those literate in Jewish history (or any minority group’s history, really) know that hateful speech can soon be followed by harmful actions, which is why this matters.

Spokespeople for Republican Whip Steve Scalise and Republican Chairwoman Liz Cheney told me they stand by their explicit calls for Omar’s removal from HFAC. But what about the House’s Democratic leaders?

Do Democrats have a particular standard in mind, some comment or action that would trigger a response more severe than a strongly worded statement? If so, I’d like to understand what it is, because as things stand, it looks like Omar will face no real repercussions.

Like the frog boiling in a pot, Democrats are building up a disturbing tolerance to the anti-Semitism metastasizing within their ranks. Perhaps on their next call, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can ask Jeremy Corbyn how that ends.

While Omar’s constituents won’t decide until November 2020 whether she should stay in Congress, Pelosi could act now. The question is whether she will.

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Author: Melissa Langsam Braunstein