Or they must resign. Tell me where you have heard this story before. A young woman of color of culture makes statements that are considered improper. She is publicly and viciously pilloried. The people who are supposed to protect her immediately criticize her and demand she publicly apologize so that others will not be upset. The young woman apologizes but maintains her dignity. The trouble is a powerful man made the same transgression but worse a few months ago. He was not made to apologize. As a matter of fact very little was said about it. The same leadership that forced the young woman to apologize was mostly silent in the face of the powerful white man’s transgression. Everybody quickly moved on. To make things even worse (and absurd) that same powerful white man is now the young woman of color’s chief accuser and self-proclaimed executioner. And still the people meant to protect this young woman say nothing.
Let me state, because it will be an issue with some, that I am Jewish, I was raised as a strong supported of Israel, and have written to friends and on blogs on the importance of the right of return. I no longer have that support of Israel based on their current actions. I was not offended by what Ilaf Omar said. I thought it was in many ways something that needs to be said. If others are offended though I understand. For many years I might have felt the same. It is fine that Ilhan Omar decided to apologize and I thought she did it with grace. But the difference between the way Omar was treated from the way Kevin McCarthy was treated has been gnawing at me through the night. Of course by the media. But by the Democratic leadership? It is institutional racism at its worst, far more damaging than the black face which we are all (rightfully) screaming about.
Institutional racism is a racism of omission. It is a silent destroyer of individuals and eventually society because there are rarely single incidents to point to and yet is so much more damaging leading to despondency and self-devaluation without the victims even realizing what is happening to them. It is built in to the structures of our actions so there are no judgements, no calls to resign, no schaedenfruede. It is pernicious and must be fought at every turn. The difference in the way Ilhan Omar is being treated and Kevin McCarthy is being treated stinks to the heavens of institutional racism. The Democratic leadership must battle these structures not be part of them. It is easy to call for a man who dressed in black face to resign. It is harder to go against a power structure that would castigate a young woman of color but say little about a powerful white male. The Democratic leadership must ask loudly and continuously for McCarthy to apologize. They cannot let it go. If they do what good are they. Worse, are they part of the same institutional racism?