Hirono Defends Omar: ‘Everything We Say Can Be Viewed in a Certain Way’

• March 11, 2019 9:47 am


Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) defended Rep. Ilhan Omar after she suggested supporters of Israel have dual loyalty, arguing Sunday that "everything we say can be viewed in a certain way."

"Ilhan Omar was talking at a fundraising event and talked about loyalty to a foreign country, and those comments were condemned by many Democrats as anti-Semitic. Do you believe her comments were anti-Semitic?" host Kasie Hunt asked Hirono during an appearance on MSNBC's Kasie DC.

"I don't think she intended her comments to be anti-Semitic, but we're in an environment now where just about everything we say can be viewed in a certain way. And what we have is a lot of hate speech against immigrants, against Muslims, against all kinds of people," Hirono responded. "That is why I'm glad that when the House actually took a vote, that they basically condemned all hate speech. And we certainly are hearing a lot of hate speech from the Republicans and the right."

Hirono accused Republicans of "suddenly" going after "one person."

"I think we should be looking at ourselves and saying that we have an environment now where basically President Trump in his campaign really exposed a lot of the divisiveness and issues in our country that we've never faced up to including racism, including anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and these are all areas that we need to face up as a country," Hirono said.

Late February, Omar said she wanted "to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country" during an event in Washington, D.C., prompting backlash from Republicans and Democrats.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, slammed Omar for "invoking a vile anti-Semitic slur."

Rather than apologize for her comments, Omar repeated the sentiment in tweets directed at fellow Democratic congresswoman Nita Lowey (N.Y.).

Omar did apologize for anti-Semitic tweets written earlier in February, in which she alleged that AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobbying organization, pays politicians to be pro-Israel. A tweet in which she accused Israel of hypnotizing the world and performing evil acts was "unfortunate and offensive," Omar said.