Insensitivity is the least of America’s problems

Greyson Mize, sports & activities beat lead

American politics saw an enormous controversy last month when freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar released a string of tweets that were dubbed anti-Semitic by Democratic and Republican leaders alike. The tweets in question speculated that the influx of pro-Israel policies in the U.S. is the result of large sums of money donated by lobbyist groups, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in particular.

The AIPAC spends millions of dollars a year advocating for pro-Israel political action. The Center for Responsible Politics, a nonpartisan research group tracking money in the U.S, reported that the AIPAC spent more than three million dollars on lobbying in 2018, a number that has been climbing in the past 10 years. The AIPAC isn’t the only group that has been accused of buying Congress. According to the Pew Research Center, a social and demographic statistic resource, nearly half of all white men in America (48%) own guns. However, stating that the National Rifle Association has an enormous amount of influence on politicians through generous contributions is neither anti-white man or anti-gun; it’s a simple fact.

There is much to be said about the incredible swaying power of lobbyist money on American lawmakers and the way they impact the policies we all live under. Omar did not claim that all Jewish people are lobbying for pro-Israel measures. Condemning her because the fact she stated wasn’t politically correct reflects a greater problem with the extreme sensitivity in America’s current culture.

This outcry against Omar is not only misplaced, it’s also largely hypocritical. While President Trump personally called for the freshman Congresswoman to resign, according to the Washington Post, CNN, and the Weekly Standard, he has a steady history of anti-Semitism himself. These actions include tweeting a photo of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election featuring a six-pointed star, a bag of money and the words “most corrupt candidate ever” and blaming “both sides” after a woman protesting anti-Semitism was killed during neo-nazi riots in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. Both of these instances demonstrated outright racist implications, yet neither of these remarks prompted Republican officials to condemn President Trump or call for his resignation.

Similarly, Iowa state representative Steve King’s anti-semitic statements were ignored by Republican officials for years, even after he used a congressional trip funded by a Holocaust memorial group in 2018 to meet with the Freedom Party of Austria, a far-right organization with Nazi ties. It wasn’t until King said, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization– how did that language become offensive?” in a New York Times interview that he was criticized sparingly by members of his own party and stripped of House Committee responsibilities. However, President Trump did not comment on King’s statements or call for his resignation.

The value placed on political correctness over facts is a powerful and dangerous driving force that is used as a weapon in American society. As a result of Omar’s condemnation, influential lobbying superpowers have been ignored, and politicians with long histories of insensitivity and racism have been lauded as heroes for speaking out against a legitimate talking point. This dialogue reveals a frightening double standard in the U.S. that jumps to censor controversial conversation while genuine bigotry is permitted.

This influence is not limited to politics. College professors have reported difficulty and outright inability to teach the curriculum required of them in the past decade due to complaints about trigger warnings. Jeannie Suk, a professor of law at Harvard Law School, discussed her struggles with teaching rape law in a New Yorker essay. According to Suk, some students insist that their professors avoid the topic altogether in order to be sensitive towards students with past trauma. Regardless of the subject’s political correctness, rape law is a vital component of the judicial system. Suggesting that students shouldn’t get a full education in order to evade uncomfortability is ludicrous.

Instead of policing the insensitivity of politicians and educators, more energy should be used by both the Democratic and the Republican parties to stamp out lies and hatred in America. If as much effort was put into calling for powerful figures that wield hateful rhetoric to resign as the valiant attempts to punish Omar for stating a truth, American politics would benefit greatly. Until perpetrators of blatant racism are removed from office, it is hypocritical and unreasonable to reprimand the insensitivity of honest political concerns.