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When Ilhan Omar asks questions, her colleagues should listen

NEW YORK - House Republicans are poised to make a grave mistake by removing from the Committee on Foreign Affairs the only person who consistently describes American foreign policy as it is experienced by much of the rest of the world, writes the New York Times.

Those behind the effort to remove Ilhan Omar claim that she’s bigoted against Jews.

Her Democratic defenders counter that the real bigots are those Republicans seeking to oust a Black Muslim woman. Yet neither side is talking much about what Ms. Omar has actually done on the committee from which she may soon be removed. That’s too bad. Because what Ms. Omar has done is extraordinary.

In 2021, the Alliance of Democracies Foundation asked 50,000 people in 53 countries which global power they thought most threatened democracy in their nation. The United States came in first.

Judging by their public statements, most members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee think these non-Americans are certifiably insane. The committee’s Republicans and Democrats both largely take it for granted that the United States — despite occasional blunders — defends liberty.

When discussing threats to human rights, they generally attribute them to America’s foes. Ms. Omar is the exception. When Ms. Omar’s turn came, the self-congratulation abruptly stopped. She began by noting that during America’s last Cold War, the country supported “brutal dictators” like Chile’s Augusto Pinochet and Indonesia’s Suharto because they shared “a common enemy.” She then asked Ms. Sherman why her administration was making Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India “our new Pinochet.” Ms. Omar’s colleagues discussed India primarily as a potential bulwark against China and Russia.

Only Ms. Omar spoke about American complicity in the repression of minority groups in India. “How much does the Modi administration have to criminalize the act of being Muslim in India,” she asked, “for us to say something?” This pattern has repeated itself again and again in the four years since Ms. Omar entered Congress.

The 50 other members of the Foreign Affairs Committee piously condemn the misdeeds of America’s foes. She asks uncomfortable questions about America’s own.

In a hearing in May 2021, about Chinese atrocities against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, only Ms. Omar noted that the United States had itself imprisoned 22 Uyghurs at Guantánamo Bay and that China’s president had reportedly cited America’s “war on terror” as a justification for his own crackdown.

A witness who leads the Uyghur Human Rights Project concurred that America’s actions had “paved the way for this comfortable labeling Uyghurs as a terrorist” group by Beijing.