Republicans have already found ridiculous reasons to go after the only 2 Muslim women in Congress

Republicans have already found ridiculous reasons to go after the only 2 Muslim women in Congress
Image credit: Voice of America / Lorie Shaull

The 2018 midterm election brought about a historic event: the election of the first Muslim women to Congress, in Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

Unsurprisingly, Republicans have tried to go after them, just as they have Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who, like Tlaib and Omar, is a young, progressive woman of color. And just like with Ocasio-Cortez, the attacks Republicans have used on Tlaib and Omar are laughable and reveal their own prejudices.

Last week, Tlaib became the focus of outrage after she was quoted telling a roomful of House Democrats that they were going to "impeach the motherfucker." (Tlaib has since apologized for the fact that her quote hogged the news cycle in the middle of a government shutdown, but stands by her words and sentiment). The remark drew criticism from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

While "motherfucker" is clearly not a word that one would say around children, she can hardly be blamed for bringing profanity to Capitol Hill. President Donald Trump used that exact same word when explaining his plan to slap tariffs on China:

He also, of course, pointedly referred to Haiti and African nations as "shitholes" in a White House meeting, which was racist on top of being profane.

But the controversy surrounding Omar is arguably even more absurd. It began on Tuesday, after she responded to a video highlighting the epic flip-flop Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made on allegiance to Trump by calling him "compromised":

Omar later admitted in an interview that this was merely her "opinion" and not something that was backed up by hard proof — but Republicans didn't just go after her for making an unsubstantiated claim. They argued that this somehow made her homophobic!

It is true that there have been baseless rumors that Graham reversed his prior stance on Trump because someone is threatening to out him. But that is not what Omar was talking about — she never once mentioned Graham's sexuality. Rather, as she explains in the interview, she was suggesting that Graham was influenced by campaign money, polls in his state, or party leadership.

To characterize her comment as being about Graham's sexuality is a bad faith argument that sounds suspiciously like a dog whistle, given stereotypes about Muslims being anti-gay (and in fact, polling shows that American Muslims are more accepting of LGBTQ persons than white evangelicals).

Given that the coverage of the government shutdown has generally not gone its way, it is little surprise that the GOP wants to fill the news cycle with anything else. But the controversies surrounding Congress' first two Muslim women are asinine, and say more about the GOP than about its targets.

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