Transcript, Web links and Credits below.
Just a few weeks ago the weight of the world was on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar as she was being attacked first by conservatives, then by moderate Democrats who were all saying she was a bigot. She isn’t. But today it’s on Rashida Tlaib as conservatives are attempting to frame her with a fake quote about the Holocaust that she never actually made. Trump has now targeted her and it’s all so very dangerous.
I need to unpack and explain the attack — because the mainstream media is doing a horrible job with this. And I need us to talk about why we should all care that conservatives are trying to make it out like advocating for Palestine means you hate Jews. It doesn’t.
Let’s dig in.
This is Shaun King and you are listening to (The Breakdown)!
After spending most of the past 6 months targeting and attacking Congresswoman Ilhan Omar — who is the only refugee in Congress, the first woman to ever wear a hijab in Congress, and the only Black woman Muslim in Congress – yesterday Donald Trump and dozens of other prominent conservatives moved their attention over to my dear friend Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Detroit. And the pattern here is unmistakable. In 2018, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress.
And here’s the thing — theoretically I knew that they were going to be targeted and harassed. In my mind, I knew that was going to happen, I knew it would get ugly, but seeing it happen in real time is something altogether different.
Just as they did with Ilham Omar, they are lying about Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib — saying that she said something so outrageous, so preposterous, that I genuinely think it should be a crime to tell such a lie.
When I first saw it, I literally thought it was a hoax.
They are saying that Rashida said that “thinking of The Holocaust brings her comfort.” As soon as I saw it, I knew that it was a lie. I know Rashida personally. I know her family. I’ve met her kids. I know her work. She is a kind, compassionate soul and fights against all forms of bigotry. She works and fights against anti-Semitism all of the time. She works directly with Jewish groups fighting bigotry against Jews.
When I first saw the headline of what conservatives like Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and others were saying that Rashida said, I wondered if they were trying to say she said this BS 10 years ago or 20 years ago. Nah. They are saying she said that this weekend — on a popular podcast — out in the open for the world to hear. Take a moment to think about that.
Beyond the fact that Rashida Tlaib would never say such a thing because she doesn’t believe it — saying out loud that “thinking of the Holocaust brings you comfort” would immediately ruin anyone’s entire career. You’d be toast. Unless you are Donald Trump, of course. Republicans are not willing to hold him accountable for anything he says, but Rashida Tlaib did not say this. She did not kind of say it. She did not say something like this. And anyone saying she did — including Donald Trump — who has now targeted her and spread this lie to the world on Twitter, anyone who says she said this is a damn liar. Let me say it now, “You a damn lie.”
Rashida Tlaib never said that.
In fact, she said the exact opposite. She literally said that when she thinks of the horrors of the Holocaust, it gave her some measure of peace to know that her people, Palestinians, provided the land that was used as a refuge for Jews who escaped. When she said this, she said it just the way I told you. And for them to cut and paste just a few of her words out to say that she said the Holocaust itself gave her comfort is not just disingenuous, it’s dangerous.
Imagine for a moment that someone said, “I’m glad that when someone says ‘I’m gonna kill the President’ that we have systems to catch and hold those people responsible.” Imagine someone said that, but then all of a sudden people try to say, hold up, that person said they are going to kill the President. No, no they didn’t. You don’t get to cut and paste words and phrases together to make them mean and say whatever you want them to mean and say.
We saw this happen with Ilhan Omar. When they lie about these women — and then when Donald Trump targets them — the death threats come flowing in. I am frequently ashamed by the state of affairs of this country. I am ashamed that Donald Trump is the President and ashamed that we have women being targeted, harassed, and threatened out in the open like this.
I’m grateful that Democrats have done a better job standing up for Rashida Tlaib, but the national media has done a horrible job. Covering her words like maybe they were true, maybe they weren’t.
But just for a moment, I have to break down what I think is a dangerous subtext of what’s really going on here.
(Break it down music)
I have a question for you? Do you think Apartheid in South Africa was unjust and wrong? I do. Now that Apartheid has ended, most polls show that 95% of people will tell you that Apartheid, which was the unjust system of segregation and oppression designed by the white minority in South Africa — where people were forced off of their land, then often forced into the worst lands available, then denied all access to rights and resources, denied even the basic freedom to walk and move about the country the way they wanted. Apartheid was an ugly, horrible system. Police brutality was common. Systems of mass incarceration became the norm. Brilliant men like Steve Biko were murdered. And some of the best leaders in the nation were made into political prisoners.
If you think Apartheid was ugly, a version of Apartheid is happening right here, right now, in Palestine. And just like during Apartheid, it’s hard to get the real truth about what’s happening because the media hardly tells the truth about what’s going on. During the South African Apartheid, countries all over the world protected the racist white bigots and defended the regime.
The current government in Israel is just as bad. Palestinians have been forced off of their lands and into what amounts to an open air prison. Palestinians cannot come and go. It is surrounded on every side. Supplies, clean water, and basic utilities are limited.
Over the past year, with my own eyes, I watched unarmed, non-violent men, women, and children be shot and killed by Israeli snipers and sharpshooters. I don’t mean once or twice, I mean I saw it dozens of times. Nurses, journalists, young children. Most respected human rights organizations around the world, including Human Rights Watch, called these shootings war crimes and crimes against humanity. They called them violations of international law. And they were.
But something ugly is happening in the United States. It’s been happening, but with Trump in power, it’s getting worse. When you advocate for the basic human rights and dignity of Palestinians — the basic civil rights of Palestinians – you are now labeled an anti-Semite. Trump tweeted yesterday that Rashida Tlaib hates Israel and hates Jews.
She doesn’t. I don’t.
Here’s the thing – I loathe anti-Semitism. I have personally put my life and my family’s life at risk to track down Neo-Nazis and bring them to justice. I am currently tracking several in multiple cases right now.
And we have to be able to loathe anti-Semitism, which I do, which Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar do, and simultaneously fight for the human rights and dignity of Palestinians.
Rashida Tlaib is Palestinian American. She has family there right now. She can’t be labeled a bigot when she advocates for people.
I have an important correction that I need to make from Episode 29 about my disappointment in the white staff and players of the Boston Red Sox refusing to support the players and coaches of color on their team. In the episode, I mentioned that the team’s manager, Alex Cora, was born in Puerto Rico, and that he “immigrated to the United States.” Now when I said that, of course I already knew that Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, but when someone is born in Puerto Rico and moves to the mainland United States, while some people call that immigrating, it’s not the right word. It suggests a move from one country to another. It’s best to simply say that someone moved from Puerto Rico to the mainland, but not immigrated!
Thank you to the listeners for catching that and giving me better language to use.
Thank you all for making it all the way through this episode of The Breakdown!
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Produced by Willis Polk II
Additional Production by Christian “Idrys” Shannon
Additional Instrumentation by Christian “Idrys” Shannon, Lance “Lance Fury” Powlis & Markeith Black
Additional Engineering by Amond “AJ” Jackson for Salem Psalms Library
Additional Vocals by Garnett “Natti” Bush, Miranda & Jason Coffey
Scratches by Kenny “DJ FlipFlop” Vanderberg
Contains samples from:
“Beautiful Danger (Remix)” by The Off Daze