Op-EdOpinion

WILLIAMS: Leave it to Democrats!

Let me say upfront that I am a Democrat. I am a Black woman, and there is no other existing party in which I would rather be. Black women are the soul of the Democratic Party. We can be depended upon when most others go south in elections, but I just have to ask — what is it about our party that gets so weird when everything seems to be going right for us?

Rep. Ilhan Omar is a talented young woman who recently came to the Congress. From the time she arrived, she has been targeted not only by our adversaries, but she’s been harassed from within.

What she’s being harassed about now is beyond the understanding of those of us who are the most loyal Democrats. Calling attention to the fact that so many are more concerned about policies that benefit Israel than about policies that benefit our country. Whether you believe everything she says is your business, but are those thoughts worth tearing our party apart?

I’m not afraid to say that so much of what party members are fighting about is true. Let me give you a personal example of attacks against me over the same issue. Years ago, I ran for the U.S. Congress. I was leading my Republican opponent by at least 20 percentage points and was attacked by a gentleman who’d served on the AIPAC board of directors. I was targeted as one of the top 10 people to defeat. What was my sin? In law school, I had two best friends who assisted me in my campaign. My campaign manager was Palestinian. My policy director was Jewish. Jewish friends supported me. Arab-American friends supported me, and neither group was disturbed by anything I said about U.S. policies toward Israel.

Just days before the election, I was contacted by the labor chief in my state and told to sign a document that in essence said I was to pledge my allegiance to Israel. When I refused, a headline appeared in the paper that I was a PLO terrorist sympathizer without proof. Obviously, that was not true, but it was enough to elect a well-known racist Republican instead of me. Some of the same people in Congress today didn’t say a mumbling word in my defense. I am not opposed to the resolution proposed to protect people from anti-Semitism, but what about racism, misogynists, Islamic haters — and the man in the White House, who seems to hate everybody?

Certain Democrats need to grow up. When they begin to have concern for others, all of us will be there supporting a resolution about anti-Semitism.

I know there’re people who will make an effort to threaten me for saying what so many people believe. Many have told me there is an unfair overkill about Israel, while saying nothing about other evils. I know because they’ve told me they are too afraid of being targeted. As a writer once said, “We’re all human beings and nothing human should be alien to us.” Let’s stop the fighting over the feelings of one group of people while ignoring the rest of us.

Let us who call ourselves leaders have a conversation about how we end all of the hate against all of us. No, I am not afraid of being targeted by anybody because I have already been through and survived that fire. Those of us who work for the benefit of all people do not deserve all of this Democratic Party bickering and hatefulness toward certain groups for speaking out against unfair policies or words about any country. We’re better than that. Let’s prove it.

Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc.

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