Search form

Scroll To Top

Stop Asking Ilhan Omar to Condemn Palestine’s LGBTQ+ Crackdown

Stop Asking Ilhan Omar to Condemn Palestine’s LGBTQ+ Crackdown

Stop Asking Ilhan Omar to Condemn Palestine’s LGBTQ+ Crackdown

No one expects white people to condemn every mass shooting committed by another white person.

In America, history doesn't just repeat itself. It plays on a loop.

After Palestinian authorities announced they would be cracking down on LGBTQ+ organizing in the West Bank, members of the right-wing media immediately started calling for a response from Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota). Local law enforcement claimed events thrown by the LGBTQ+ community group alQaws violate "traditional Palestinian values" and ordered them banned.

Omar has been a leading critic of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, a stance that recently led to the lawmaker -- in addition to fellow House Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) -- being banned from Israel after Donald Trump tweeted she hates "Israel & all Jewish people."

Clearly siding with the president, right-wing news website Washington Examiner claims Palestine's "vicious anti-gay intolerance betrays everything the progressive women claim to stand for."

"The merits of Israel's decision to deny the congresswomen entry are ripe for debate, but one thing is no longer disputable: the blatant hypocrisy of supposedly progressive Democrats supporting an illiberal Palestinian Authority government over our Israeli allies," says the conservative online rag, which incidentally has a long history of transphobic reporting.

Omar responded to the calls for her to condemn Palestine's ban on LGBTQ+ events on Monday in a tweet. She posted a guide created by alQaws instructing allies on how to support queer and transgender people living in the West Bank.

"Right wing media asking us about this, can you listen up and amplify it correctly!" Omar wrote on her personal account.

While it's great that Omar is using her platform to amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ Palestinians, she is not obligated to respond every single time a brown or Muslim person does something wrong -- just as we don't ask all white people to condemn mass shootings perperated by Caucasian males, the group most likely to be mass shooters.

This controversy harkens back to the weeks and months after the September 11 attacks, which were used as a McCarthyian litmus test to prove Muslims' loyalty to their own country. If they didn't condemn the horrific acts of terrorism committed by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, Muslims were viewed as suspect and possibily seditious. Even if they did denounce the attacks, they were expected to do so again and again -- and sometimes it still wasn't good enough.

The problem of expecting Muslims to speak on behalf of an entire population of 1.8 billion people hasn't changed in the intervening years. Muslims were expected to denounce the San Bernardino shooting and the attack on Pulse nightclub, when a gunman killed 49 people after pledging allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call.

This expectation isn't just racist and xenophobic; it causes Americans to create fallacious connections between Islam and mass terror in their minds, even when they're more likely to be blown up by someone who looks like Donald Trump than llhan Omar.

Omar has herself spoken out on this issue. During a panel at the Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy, she was asked by a member of the audience to censure female genital mulitation (FGM). Omar responded that she had made her position on the issue clear many times and was tired of being interrogated on the subject.

"So today, I forgot to condemn al Qaeda, so here's the al Qaeda one," the Congresswoman said in July. "I forgot to condemn FGM. Here that goes. I forgot to condemn Hamas. Here that goes."

Let's be clear: LGBTQ+ Palestinians absolutely need all the support they can get. But according to the fact-sheet Omar herself tweeted, alQaws says one of the ways onlookers can best support queer and transgender people on the ground is to resist "pinkwashing": the idea that Israel's support of LGBTQ+ rights makes all its humanitarian actions virtuous or that Palestine's lack of support makes everything it does bad.

"Perpetuating tiresome tropes of presenting Palestinians as inherently oppressive and Israel as a liberal state that protects [LGBTQ+] rights is counterproductive and factually baseless," the organization says. "[...] We ask you to steer away from these lies that are intentionally used to justify their colonization of Palestine."

It's sound advice, but something tells me no one will ever expect every white person who has criticized Omar to respond to it.

RELATED | Stop Demanding People of Color to Show 'Gratitude'

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Nico Lang