When she could no longer deny the obvious, Representative Ilhan Omar apologized. Then, she attacked. Yes, perhaps she had said some insensitive things about the group AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee); things that people might interpret as being anti-Semitic. But she had now seen the light thanks to her critics.
“Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” she tweeted, adding, “I unequivocally apologize.”
Something about the language suggests insincerity. Perhaps it is that “unequivocally.” But let it pass. It is the next part that is interesting.
“At the same time,” she continued. “I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry. It’s (sic) gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”
Now just how, you wonder, did we get from that rancid old slander about the malign political influence of Jewish money (“the Benjamins” in Ilhan Omar’s street lingo) to the National Rifle Association?
Well, probably the same way Harvey Weinstein did when it was first revealed that he is a sexual predator who had used his status in Hollywood to cover up what was often described as “an open secret.” Facing disgrace and charges of rape, Weinstein also apologized — sort of — in a written statement he delivered to the New York Times, which began:
“My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons… and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with this issue head on.”
“I cannot be more remorseful,” the statement continued, “about the people I hurt and I plan to do right by all of them.”
And how would he accomplish this exercise in penance and rehabilitation? Well, in the statement he went on to declare,
“I am going to need a place to channel that anger so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention.”
For Weinstein and many others, the NRA serves the same function that AIPAC does for Representative Omar. When you need an enemy to blame for — well, just about anything — then you point to the NRA.
Your audience will get it, since everyone knows the NRA is an overwhelmingly formidable and sinister lobbying enterprise with money to buy influence, votes, elections, and the automatic subservience of just about any politician it targets. Sort of like the Jews of Ms. Omar’s vile imagination.
In truth, if you measure by money and influence, the NRA is not in the same league with, say, realtors, ranking 83rd in spending on lobbying last year. Doctors, school teachers, automobile makers and dealers … all sorts of organizations laid out more for lobbying than the roughly $5 million that the NRA spent last year. That $5 million is 20% of what Big Pharma dropped on lobbying.
There is no Constitutional right to pharmaceuticals, no amendment in the Bill of Rights that addresses a right to make or sell or consume prescription drugs. The NRA, on the other hand, does have a commitment to the Constitution, specifically its 2nd Amendment.
The language is plain:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The members of the NRA believe that this right is being subverted, more or less constantly. They believe that they have enemies and in their case, it is not paranoia. The governor of New York is on record, saying that if he could shut down the NRA, he would. And that he has been trying, now, for 20 years. Harvey Weinstein incidentally was a generous supporter of Governor Cuomo’s. According to the New York Times, Cuomo got more than $110,000 from Weinstein over the course of several statewide campaigns.
There are various reasons for wanting to own a gun. For wanting to know how to use one and becoming skilled with it. Recreation, hunting, self-defense… even armed resistance against the state if it comes to that. Or, if you are a woman, armed resistance against a predator… like Harvey Weinstein, perhaps. Or, if you are a Jew, against an anti-Semite passionate enough to be homicidal.
The successful use of a gun for self-defense is too rare to be worth the risk, according to people who fear guns and loathe the NRA. It is better left to professionals. None of whom were on hand, recently, when a woman who was waiting for a bus in Chicago was attacked by a man with a gun. He plainly did not realize that she was also armed. She shot him.
The NRA membership believes that she had the right to the gun and to use it to defend herself. That this right is there, plainly, in the Constitution. Just as troops will not be quartered in the homes of American citizens, the right to bear arms will not be infringed. Five million people believe that with enough conviction that they have become members of the NRA, an organization that is under siege.
But, then, it is said that you will be known by the enemies you make. In the case of the NRA, those enemies include, among others, Harvey Weinstein, a sexual predator, and Representative Ilhan Omar, an anti-Semite.
Good enemies to have.