With each passing day, it becomes clearer that many politicians’ motivations are being driven by Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiments. After President Joe Biden delivered his Holocaust Remembrance speech on Tuesday, many followed suit the next day on the House floor. The most telling evidence is in their speeches as they invoked sentiments that suggest Muslims inherently want to eliminate Jewish people from the planet.

“Driven by ancient desire to wipe out the Jewish people off the face of the Earth, over 1,200 innocent people – babies, parents, grandparents – slaughtered in their kibbutz, massacred at a musical festival, brutally raped, mutilated, and sexually assaulted,” said Biden. “Thousands more carrying wounds, bullets, and shrapnel from the memory of that terrible day they endured. Hundreds taken hostage, including survivors of the Shoah.”

The idea of an “ancient desire” is similar to suggesting that people are born hating Jewish people. But while Biden railed about this supposed ancient desire by Muslims to eliminate the Jewish people, he ignored that it was white Christian nationalists that were behind the Holocaust. And if we are to remember that atrocity, we should remember it accurately.

“Now, here we are, not 75 years later but just seven and a half months later, and people are already forgetting,” Biden continued. “They’re already forgetting that Hamas unleashed this terror, that it was Hamas that brutalized Israelis, that it was Hamas who took and continues to hold hostages. I have not forgotten, nor have you, and we will not forget.”

Aside from neo-Nazis, no one is forgetting or denying the Holocaust nor has anyone forgotten the tragic events of October 7. The former is still taught in schools and discussed regularly throughout society at large due to the rise in hate groups and religious extremists. The latter is being used as justification for the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians by rogue leadership in Israel. 

It’s impossible to forget either event and to suggest so is not just disingenuous propaganda, but a flat-out lie without any basis in reality. Meanwhile, the rhetoric is what fuels hate crimes and bolsters anti-Arab animus.

As I so often say, Biden’s worst enemy is his cabinet and his staffers work their asses off to mitigate disasters like these. Hence, his declaration the next day saying that he would withhold weapons shipments to Israel should they invade Rafah – an invasion that was already underway when he made the statement.

Regardless, his speech exposed the Islamophobic nature of U.S. policy in the region.

Meanwhile, the harm from rhetoric like that cannot be walked back enough to minimize the damage it does. It bolsters far too many misinformed ideas about Muslims, Islam, and Arabs alike whether from Palestine or otherwise. Members of Congress echoed these sentiments on their own with speeches on the House floor the following day. Both Democrat and Republican members echoed the president and the debunked claims he made on Tuesday.

Some made assertions never claimed by Israel or any government. Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) on Wednesday claimed 1,400 Israelis were killed on October 7 when the number was initially around 1,200, later lowered and is now thought to be 1,139 people (695 civilians including 36 children, 373 security forces, and 71 foreigners).

Like his colleagues, Costa also falsely claimed that the protests on college campuses led to attacks against Jewish faculty and students despite evidence showing otherwise. And like his colleagues, he equated people’s humanity with support for terrorism and Hamas – an issue of contention among many as such declarations are seen as being meant to stifle free speech.

Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) didn’t waste any time on Wednesday ignoring reality. Like his counterpart, Rep. Costa, he instead continued to justify the slaughter of innocent civilians in what academics and society at large are increasingly calling a genocide. Undeterred by the 34,262 Palestinians that have been killed, of which 70% are women and children, Cline went on a rant seemingly angry by the speech given just before his time on the floor.

The speech on the floor that got under Cline’s skin on Wednesday was the bright spot of the day. It was focused on accountability and humanity, both of which have been equated with supporting Hamas and being antisemitic, neither of which is true. And in a Congress that is largely anti-Arab, it took guts to do what Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-IL) did in calling out the Biden administration for not holding Israel accountable and not submitting reports about the conflict.

On Thursday, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) jumped on the bandwagon and took to the Senate floor and continued the bipartisan attack on anti-war protests on college campuses. He began his speech by seemingly justifying the killing of innocents because the U.S. has done it under Biden. McConnell then made a transition to demonizing protesters by calling them useful idiots and suggesting they were supporting terrorism.

Aside from the damage they do with their rhetoric in fanning the flames of Islamophobia, seeing so many politicians echo each other as they’re duped by propaganda is embarrassing. Not just for them but for an entire nation where 39% of all voters (56% of Democrats) believe Israel is committing genocide in Palestine and 70% support a permanent ceasefire. The idea that the people who are supposed to represent the population ignore them even during such a conflict speaks volumes. And I’m not sure they see themselves the way the entire country does.

That doesn’t bode well for us who are struggling to get by due to increases in the cost of everything from housing to food. While we struggle, I remind you that they spent all Monday afternoon debating appliances on the House floor instead of addressing more pressing concerns like funding education instead of war.

The Antagonist Magazine is a project made up of journalists, activists, and writers focused on amplifying the stories of marginalized communities. The goal is to educate the public by sharing narratives focused on independent voices. Born of an online community in 2019, our platform operates independently; free of corporate influence. Please consider supporting the work of dozens of writers from various communities.

Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.

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