13 Feb This Is Why We Elect Real Progressives
Though most of the outrage was manufactured and hypocritical, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) deserved criticism for her ill-expressed tweet about AIPAC. But she has more than redeemed herself with this exchange with Elliott Abrams, Trump’s Special Envoy to Venezuela, at a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting yesterday.
It is a delight to watch Elliott Abrams’ face as he is asked — by a woman! by a person of color! by a Muslim in a hijab! — why anyone should believe what he says now about Venezuela, given that he was convicted of lying to Congress over his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal. And it is sheer unmitigated joy to see him squirm when Omar reminds him that he described the infamous El Mozote massacre in 1981 — in which US-backed El Salvadorian death squads murdered more than 800 civilian men, women, and children — as “communist propaganda” and once hailed the Reagan administration’s murderous efforts in El Salvador as a “fabulous achievement.” Not surprisingly, Abrams refuses to answer the questions, outraged that Omar had the temerity to suggest that his abysmal record in Central America in the 80s might be relevant to his efforts now in Venezuela.
In one sense, Abrams’ outrage his understandable. I’m sure he was expecting much more cordial questioning that pretended his past didn’t exist. Most of the time, with most interlocutors, that is exactly what he would have received.
The new generation of progressives in Congress, however, are not willing to sit quietly when a racist, sociopathic president nominates someone like Abrams to a position of authority. And amen to that! We need fewer Clintons, Schumers, and Wasserman Schultzes in American politics — and more Omars, Tlaibs, and Ocasio-Cortezes. Yesterday was a potent reminder of why.
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