So it seems calling out isms is a partisan activity.
Well, at least for Republicans it is.
Now of course that’s nothing new for the people over at Fox News (or as I like to call them, Faux Noise), but I’m being reminded it’s pretty much a part of the overall Republican playbook. Let’s take Jennifer Carnahan Hagedorn, chair of the Minnesota Republican Party and her new BFF, President Donald Trump.
In a flurry of Feb. 11 posts on her social media (personal and official GOP pages) Carnahan Hagedorn railed against Rep. Ilhan Omar, representative of Minnesota’s 5th District, for a retweet where some felt the freshman congresswoman implied a pro-Israel lobbying group’s support for the Middle-Eastern nation is motivated by money. Here caption for the original tweet was “All About the Benjamins.” The implication was seen as anti-Semitic because throughout the years those of the Jewish faith have been accused of being inordinately motivated by money. Omar almost immediately apologized for the remark stating, “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. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back a think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”
Omar’s apology wasn’t enough for Carnahan Hagedorn nor Carnahan Hagedorn’s buddy, Trump – a man who began his campaign for president by stating Barack Obama was born in Kenya, who used racist language against Native-Americans, called white supremacists “very fine people,” called Haiti and Africa “sh*thole countries” and said his celebrity status was license for sexual assault. Despite all that, both Carnahan Hagedorn and Trump called for Omar’s resignation.
To quote “Saturday Night Live” character, The Church Lady, “Well isn’t that special.”
Carnahan Hagedorn has quickly ascended the ranks of the GOP. Asked to run against Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-59) in 2016 so Champion wouldn’t run unopposed, Carnahan Hagedorn obliged and fell into the good graces of the state Republican Party, pulling of a surprise win in her bid to chair the state GOP. Initially viewed as a moderate Republican, Carnahan Hagedorn quickly pivoted hard right and fell in line behind the party’s national leader; a man known as Individual One in criminal documents. Her loyalty to Trump was rewarded this past January when she was named to his Advisory Council on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
So for sure, Carnahan Hagedorn’s star is on the rise despite the fact Republicans lost the state House this past November, Democrats won all statewide seats (both U.S. Senate seats, governor/lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and auditor) and Republicans lost U.S. House seats in Districts 2 and 3.
Republicans did, however, pick up seats in Districts 1 and 8, so a net wash there, but some within her party were critical, wondering if too much time was focused on the race in District 1, the seat vacated by Tim Walz, who successful ran for governor. In that race Carnahan Hagedorn’s husband, Rep. Jim Hagedorn prevailed.
Nonetheless, Carnahan Hagedorn has a strong voice in the Republican Party, and she’s using it … well sometimes.
Although Virginia is more than 1,000 miles away, it wasn’t far from Carnahan Hagedorn’s thoughts when she released an official statement calling for a Democrat’s resignation. Rightfully so, Carnahan Hagedorn called on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign when it was revealed a photo on his medical school yearbook page contained one man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood.
“Elected officials hold the trust of those they serve and are held to a higher standard than the average American – a standard that Governor Ralph Northam no longer fits. Following Northam’s spin, denials and pivots, it is evident he refuses to take responsibility and step aside. But enough is enough. We must stand united as Minnesotans, as Americans, and show that this sort of racism will not be tolerated. We call on Minnesota’s delegation, regardless of political affiliation, to speak out against Governor Northam’s actions and words, and urge him to step down,” wrote Carnahan Hagedorn.
Showing “this sort of racism will not be tolerated” seems to be quite selective.
Much closer to home, Minnesota’s southern neighboring state of Iowa has its own unabashed racist who Carnahan Hagedorn (and Trump) refuses to condemn; Republican Rep. Steve King. King, thought of throughout his tenure in office as a racist, made it plain last month when he told the New York Times there’s nothing wrong with being a white nationalist and white supremist. But shockingly (insert sarcasm), Carnahan Hagedorn (nor Trump) has yet to offer the same condemnation offered for those who have a “D” as their party affiliation.
Let’s be clear, Omar and Northam should not be viewed through the same lens. Omar made a statement, “All about the Benjamins,” which could be interpreted –and has been by some within the Jewish faith – as a Jewish slight. Northam appeared either in blackface or a Klan outfit. Also, keep in mind Northam admitted to at least one other time wearing blackface; and during an interview with Gayle King that aired Feb. 9 on CBS, the Virginia governor referred to the brutal practice of American slavery as a time of “indentured servitude” – a characterization King corrected and called it what it was; slavery.
But if we’re in the business of calling out isms, let’s be consistent and call them all out – Trump’s and King’s included. Jennifer Carnahan Hagedorn, are you willing to use your elevated platform to do that?