Current Affairs: Double Standard

Early every newspaper around the world covered the history making event. On Thursday, 3 January, two Muslim-American women were sworn into the United States House of Representatives. Together, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women in the history of the US to become two of over 400 House representatives. Cameras followed the two everywhere, from the moment they arrived in the capital, to the time they along with their families celebrated after the oath of office was administered. One wore a colorful Somali headscarf, in a nod to her Somali-American roots; the other, Rashida Tlaib, wore a maroon Palestinian thobe. Such was the excitement about her thobe that a Twitter hashtag, #showyourthobe, asked other Palestinian- American women to also display their own embroidered traditional garments. Many did.
This, however, was not how the hubbub over Rashida Tlaib’s swearing in would end. The cameras that had been trailing the newly elected representative followed her to a reception held that evening by the progressive organization, which has long opposed President Donald Trump and his policies. When asked to take the microphone, Representative Tlaib recounted a conversation she had previously had with her son. “Bullies don’t win,” her son had told her. Tlaib said she responded with, “Baby, they don’t. And we’re going in there and we’re going to impeach the Mother Fu%$#@].” Applause followed and Tlaib quickly gave up the microphone.
I didn’t see much reaction on social media by my liberal friends. Imagine if someone used the same slur for Obama or any other Democrats. Such is the partisanship for so called social reformers. The House majority leader, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, said she would not have used such words herself but that Tlaib’s words were certainly “nothing worse than [what] the president has said”. Other Democrats, particularly those belonging to the prim and trite “when they go low, we go high” Obama- Clinton camps, who have long insisted that they must stand for civility and not bow to the depths Trump plunges to, were also silent.
For her part, Tlaib refused to apologies. She stood by her words; she had said exactly what she had intended to say, and what she had meant to say. Many agreed with her; a hashtag echoing her call for impeachment trended on Twitter for hours as angry Democratic supporters rallied in favor of Tlaib.
The Tlaib episode is notable for several reasons. For starters, while she may have been criticized by certain news media outlets and Republican politicians, she did not face any actual consequences for her use of indecent language. She was not officially censured; the US government did not begin any proceedings against her. Threatening Republican mobs did not gather outside her house, and while Trump did say that her comments were “highly disrespectful” and that she had “dishonored herself” when specifically asked, he too was powerless to actually stop her from using similar language in the future.
Tlaib’s statement also reveals the turn that minority women will have to take in the years to come. Minority organizations, many that balk at giving women leadership positions within their own organizations and boards, have been eager to embrace the two new emblems of minority women leadership. Tlaib’s use of inappropriate language is far beyond the narrow codes of decency that are viewed as permissible to most.
If we don’t criticize them as we do to Trump for much milder language, we are not a nation of reasonable people. This country is certainly going down the hill.


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