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McCarthy now says he's concerned about antisemitism in House committee

The minority leader has long ignored discriminatory comments by several House GOP members.

By Josh Israel - June 16, 2021
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House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed on Tuesday that if Republicans win back the majority in the chamber, he will keep all antisemites off the House Foreign Affairs Committee. But during his time in leadership, the California Republican has done little to stand up to antisemitism or Islamophobia in his own party.

Appearing on Fox News, McCarthy said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the panel: “This is an individual that has not once but on numerous occasions been antisemitic. … But she’s just not antisemitic, she’s anti-American now. She’s equating America to Taliban, to Hamas. She’s discrediting our greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel, the only democracy.”

McCarthy was apparently referring to Omar’s recent comments acknowledging that atrocities have been committed by many actors, including “the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”

“I will promise you this. If we are fortunate enough to have the majority, Omar would not be serving on Foreign Affairs, or anybody that has an antisemitic, anti-American view,” he vowed. “That is not productive, and that is not right.”

But McCarthy has himself come under fire for antisemitism and has countenanced antisemitic comments by members of his caucus.

In October 2018, he received widespread criticism for tweeting, “We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election. Get out and vote Republican November 6th. #MAGA.”

George Soros and Michael Bloomberg are both Jewish; Tom Steyer, whose father was Jewish, is often misidentified as a Jew. All three are large donors to progressive causes.

Steyer denounced the tweet as “a straight-up anti-Semitic move,” based on the common antisemitic trope that rich Jews secretly run America. McCarthy deleted the tweet but refused to apologize, later denying that it had anything to do with the men’s faith.

He has also repeatedly defended antisemitic Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who once falsely claimed that the wealthy Jewish Rothschild family’s investment banking firm used “space solar generators” emitting laser beams to ignite deadly California wildfires in 2018.

He did nothing after news emerged that Madison Cawthorn, then a Republican candidate for Congress from North Carolina, had boasted on social media of visiting Adolf Hitler’s vacation home, or when the newly elected Cawthorn complained about how challenging it is to convert devout Jews to Christianity.

He also failed to respond to Illinois Republican Rep. Mary Miller’s observation that Hitler was right about the importance of youth indoctrination to a political movement.

A McCarthy spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

McCarthy has also done little to police the behavior of the Republicans currently serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Three of the GOP committee members — Ken Buck of Colorado, Greg Steube of Florida, and Lee Zeldin of New York — voted against a 2019 resolution condemning antisemitism and Islamophobia. It passed 407-23, with all of the no votes coming from Republicans.

Zeldin hosted 2018 campaign fundraisers with hatemongers Steve Bannon (who bragged in 2016 that his website was “the platform of the alt-right”) and Sebastian Gorka (an Islamophobic activist with ties to neo-Nazis). In 2019, he baselessly accused Omar of standing with “ISIS fighters & Palestinian terrorists.”

Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) was briefly Donald Trump’s pick to be secretary of the Army in 2017. Green was forced to withdraw his nomination over his history of anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim comments. These included criticizing Muslims for not sharing his Christian beliefs and suggesting that American public schools were indoctrinating kids to embrace Islam.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) faced criticism for taking a donation from Greene’s leadership PAC last October, for longstanding ties to Islamophobic activists, and for his attacks on Manal Omar, a scholar at the United States Institute of Peace who once accused Donald Trump of “inciting violence.”

Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) accepted — and later donated to charity — significant campaign contributions from Islamophobic activist Steven Alembik and repeatedly appeared on a right-wing radio show hosted by openly anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. A spokesperson for Mast told CNN in 2018 that he “doesn’t agree with every statement ever made by the reporters that he talks to.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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