In the absence of real news, I've been giving the new Congress a whole lotta thought. There are 101 new representatives in the House, 10 new senators, each bringing a new vision, a new perspective (we hope) to a House greatly divided. It's a diverse class. The 116th Congress of the United States of America will seat
- 67 newly elected Democrats, 44 newly elected Republicans
- 42 women
- 22 having served our nation in the military or the CIA. (Note: the first Green Beret to be elected to Congress is in this class.)
- 24 citizens of color, including the first 2 Native American women to serve in Congress, along with 2 Muslim women, and the first Korean American.
With that diversity comes a whole new set of challenges, ones we have talked about for years, and now we are faced with figuring out how to finally meet it head on.
|Debra Haaland D-New Mexico|
While I am hugely excited that two indigenous women were elected (and that's HUGE for this country) We, the People also sent two Muslim women to Congress who, in their campaigns, demonstrated not simply anti-Israel leanings, but some pretty ugly antiSemitic ones as well. One of them, Rashida Tlaib, is Palestinian-American, born in Michigan, but the other, Ilhan Omar is Somali, born in Mogadishu, raised in Baydhabo as well as refugee camps, and is from a family of educators and civil servants. According to a number of sources, it was her grandfather who instilled in her the importance of democracy.
While Rashida Tlaib has her own agenda, it's Ilhan Omar that I want to talk about. This is a smart woman; well educated, and from all indications, one who is dedicated to the idea of public service. Sure, as a Muslim, she's going to come to the job with all the bells and whistles being a Muslim in America has. Her opinions were formed in that world, and her world view is definitely colored with those same lenses. And that's to be expected. Just like everyone else in this country.
|Ilhan Omar D-Minnesota|
I think putting her on the Foreign Relations committee might have been a stroke of genius. Whatever her pro-BDS, anti-Israel sentiments are, she has a steep learning curve when it comes to the role of the United States in the world. On that committee, she will have her eyes opened to who is the enemy and who is the friend. She will have to reckon with Israel's stable and allied presence in the Middle East. She will learn about Israel and the US partnership in keeping the Suez Canal open, how Israel allows the US to use Haifa as a port for the the 6th Fleet. She will learn about joint ventures in technology that help keep the world safe. And she will learn about how life is lived in the West Bank versus Gaza and how it got that way. And how Israel is the only functional democracy in the ME.
I believe Ilhan Omar can and will learn. She will figure out how alliances work, who is a friend to the US and who is not. If she's as smart as I think she is, she'll come to understand that Israel may not be perfect and quite frankly, it's current prime minister leaves a great deal to be desired as a moral, ethical, and non-criminal leader, but that ultimately Israel is a democracy, Israelis of all shapes, sizes, races, creeds, and colors manage to live in a country where they get to go to school, vote, protest, argue, exercise freedom of expression, and get a paycheck to support themselves and their families. She'll ultimately figure out what part is fairy tale and what part is pragmatism.
Of course, her more recent forays into international tweeting do not bode well. She need to do a whole lotta remedial education before she takes to twitter as the leftist version of Feckless Leader. The recent tweet on Venezuela left her open to a variety of slams from a variety of sources. She tweeted:
A US backed coup in Venezuela is not a solution to the dire issues they face. Trump's efforts to install a far right opposition will only incite violence and further destabilize the region. We must support Mexico, Uruguay & the Vatican's efforts to facilitate a peaceful dialogue.
Well, everyone jumped on that one. It was read as supportive of Maduro's dictatorship which the citizens of Venezuela seem intent on overthrowing. That said, the tweet is poorly worded and probably does not represent her position at all, judging on her leftist leanings. But again, she is naive, unschooled in the art and craft of international diplomacy, and when she tires of being a punchline, maybe she understand she needs that education. Opinion will only get you so far; one needs actual facts
Let's get one thing straight, though: I am not Omar's biggest fan. She would not have been my choice for damn near any elected office, but for the moment, she is representing a Minnesotan district (the one in which the Junior Son and Mrs. Junior Son happen to live) and we are stuck with her for two years. We can either make the best of this, and try to get her educated, up and running on foreign relations, or we can wring our hands while trying to sandbag her.
Hey! I'm a pragmatist. Let's see if Congresswoman Omar decides to learn about how the world really works before she shoots her mouth/fingers off. Look, she has potential. Unless she does something egregiously and unforgivably stupid, let's see what we can do to provide her with ample learning opportunities. We may never get a true ally outta the deal, but we might get a partner who believes there is a way to move forward in the Middle East. She survived camps in Somalia. She knows what civil war can do to a nation and its people; she has lived that scenario and can tell her own story. I'm not suggesting giving her a free pass on antisemitism or other stupidities...quite the opposite. I'm saying hold her completely responsible for what comes outta her brain...while at the same time, providing her with a broader range of information to make sure she's getting the whole picture and not relying on someone's--anyone's-- opinion.
We, the People of Minnesota voted her in; that was our choice. Now that's she seated in Congress, let's all step up to make sure she gets exposed to ALL sides of the foreign policy, not just the ME.
Folks, this just might be is our best chance of creating one more partner for peace.
The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
We always have a choice:
we can complain or we can try to fix it.
The latter is infinitely more satisfying.