The Jury Talks Back

3/17/2019

Student Activists With Their Own History Of Bigotry Accuse Chelsea Clinton Of Causing The New Zealand Massacre

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 12:03 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Chelsea Clinton, who had been invited to attend a prayer vigil at NYU for the victims of the New Zealand massacre, was confronted by students who blamed her for the deadly attack which left 49 50 innocent people dead:

When Chelsea Clinton showed up at a vigil Friday night in New York for victims of the New Zealand mosque massacre, she was confronted by a small group of college students who accused her of inciting the violence.

Last month, the former first daughter joined throngs of Democrats and Republicans in condemning language used by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress, that they saw as perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes.

At the vigil, the New York University students said reactions like Clinton’s “stoked” hatred of Muslims.

“This, right here, is a result of a massacre stoked by people like you and *the words that you put out into the world,” one student told Clinton, according to a video of the confrontation. “And I want you to know that and I want you to feel that deep down inside. Forty-nine people died because of the rhetoric you put out there.”

“I’m so sorry that you feel that way,” Clinton said. “Certainly, it was never my intention. I do believe words matter. I believe we have to show solidarity.”

After the incident, student Leen Dweik said of her confrontation with Clinton:

… she thought that Clinton’s attendance at the vigil was “ridiculous.”

“Our collective memory is not that short,” she said. “You can’t be in a position of authority and responsibility and say things like that and get away with an ‘I’m sorry.’”

Dweik responded to the criticism with a Twitter thread, in which she explained that she felt angry and sad at the vigil, “in a space that was supposed to center me and my fellow muslims in mourning and instead became a space in which non-muslims preached abt [sic] love while turning around and supporting violent campaigns against muslims globally.”

Here is video of the encounter.

As for Clinton condemning the language used by Rep. Omar, here is the tweet that allegedly “stoked hatred of Muslims”:

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So let me get this right: Because Chelsea Clinton, who is not an elected official, held an elected official (who happens to be a Muslim WOC) accountable for her use of inflammatory language and politely cautioned her to be careful of the anti-Semitic *words she puts into the world, she simultaneously outed herself as an Islamaphobic white supremacist. Therefore she is partly to blame for a terrorist attack committed by a real-life Islamaphobic white supremacist more than 7,000 miles away! Sure, why not. This is troubling on a number of levels. What stands out to me though, is that this illogical leap is underscores how such loyalty to a politician based on a shared faith or view (of Israel), renders one unwilling, and I would even say unable to hold elected officials accountable for their every word and every deed. And that is problematic. Nothing, absolutely nothing should stand in the way of us criticizing our elected officials and speaking out against them when they behave badly. We have an obligation to do so. If we let anything cloud our vision, be it faith or simple partisanship, it prevents us from looking at politicians with a necessarily shrewd and wary eye. Necessary because we understand the inherent weakness of man, regardless of the individual in question. To be willfully blind and pledge loyalty because of one or two factors is to risk green lighting bad behavior from those with great power. Human nature knows no boundary when it comes to unfettered power. And given that behaving with impunity is man’s natural inclination if one is not constrained by fundamental values, principles, and accountability to others, it then becomes vital that public officials are constantly aware of the fact that their feet will always be held to the fire. No matter who they are, no matter what they believe. Absolutely no elected official should be exempt from such accountability. (Preemptive strike: of course this includes Trump.)

After receiving blowback for their confrontation with Clinton, the two students attempted to justify their attack in an op-ed that Buzzfeed, unsurprisingly, published. I’ll just post an excerpt which tells you all you need to know (about the young women and Buzzfeed). It is loaded with the universal, tone-deaf irony of bigots everywhere:

We went to the vigil for one reason: to grieve the loss of innocent lives that were stolen from this world by vile hatred. We wanted to join our friends and colleagues in a time of heartbreak and agony, to remember the 49 Muslims who were murdered for being Muslim. As a Jewish American-Israeli and a Palestinian Muslim, we understand far too well the consequences of anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim bigotry, and white supremacy. And as activists who are unafraid to speak the truth, we know we have a duty to call out any bigotry wherever it exists.

As people in unwavering solidarity with Palestinians in their struggle for freedom and human rights, we were profoundly disappointed when Chelsea Clinton used her platform to fan those flames. We believe that Ilhan Omar did nothing wrong except challenge the status quo, but the way many people chose to criticize Omar made her vulnerable to anti-Muslim hatred and death threats.

We were shocked when Clinton arrived at the vigil, given that she had not yet apologized to Rep. Omar for the public vilification against her. We thought it was inappropriate for her to show up to a vigil for a community she had so recently stoked hatred against. We were not alone in feeling uncomfortable — many students were dismayed to see her there.

Many have said it was unfair to connect Chelsea’s words to the massacre in Christchurch. To them, we say that anti-Muslim bigotry must be addressed wherever it exists. This is not about left and right. This is about people who do and do not have power, and how those with power use it. A global environment of hatred and vilification against Muslims created this killer. Spurred on by professional bigots, anti-Muslim hate now permeates our culture and politics, and everyone, as a matter of urgency, should consider the role they play in enabling it. That includes Chelsea Clinton.

This isn’t hard. You know where they’re coming from. Bigots typically believe they are justified in their own bigotry (which they clearly don’t see as bigotry). They see it as a righteous cause that only the enlightened are able to discern. What’s interesting, however, is when the whole of the bigot comes to light. From Leen Dweik, one of the op-ed writers:

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As the other student/op-ed writer, Rose Asaf has deleted/made private her social media accounts, you can read more about the political views she holds here and here:

Rose Asaf has spread hatred of Israel and expressed opposition to a bipartisan bill drafted in response to growing anti-Semitism in the United States.

Asaf is a co-founder of the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) organization at New York University (NYU). She is also a member and the 2018 incoming secretary of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

Asaf is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and is the author and sponsor of a 2018 divestment bill at NYU.

Asaf has promoted the #returnthebirthright initiative launched by JVP against the Birthright Jewish heritage tour.

Asaf is also affiliated with IfNotNow (INN), an organization that uses disruptive tactics to drive a wedge between the American Jewish community and Israel.

–Dana

6 Comments »

  1. Thoughtful, eloquent, definitely worth my time. I really like the way you write, Dana.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/17/2019 @ 3:59 pm

  2. Excellent article Dana. We would do well to not acquiesce our position on anti-semetic rhetoric by Omar or those Muslims in the public square as this type of hatred and veiled attacks on the Jewish people will only spiral out of control if left unchecked. Islam, by a wide margin, teaches hate or mistrust of anyone who doesn’t fall into line with their ideology. Jefferson knew this back during his days in the Presidency, and we’d be foolish to forget it. That is not to say all followers of Islam have hate in their hearts, but to ignore or kowtow to hecklers saying otherwise will be our downfall as a society.

    Comment by Sean — 3/17/2019 @ 6:15 pm

  3. Well done, Dana. And thank you for doing this.

    I would like to point out the grandest of ironies related to this issue. Many of these very same people have been calling Trump, who has Jewish kids and grandkids, an anti-semite based on nothing.

    Yet now, they’re just fine with anti-semitisim. Indeed, they embrace it and espouse it now.

    Is anyone really surprised?

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 3/17/2019 @ 6:23 pm

  4. I don’t think Trump is anti-Semetic but he doesn’t know how to talk to Jews. Or anyone, for that matter. IMO it’s because Trump doesn’t respect other people but maybe it’s because he is a New Yorker.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/18/2019 @ 6:20 am

  5. Sorry for the typo. That should be Semitic, not Semetic.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/18/2019 @ 6:31 am

  6. Thanks for the link, DRJ.

    Wow… just, wow. Talk about putting his foot in it. Yeah, some of those are blatant stereotypes, and he should darn well know better.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 3/18/2019 @ 6:32 pm

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