After dismissing Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) continued controversial comments on Israel as activist “enthusiasm,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) doubled down on her defense of the freshman congresswoman on Friday by offering another doozy of an excuse.
Speaking at an Economic Club event, Pelosi explained that she thinks Omar simply doesn’t understand the language she has been using.
“I don’t think our colleague is anti-Semitic,” she said. “I think she has a different experience in the use of words, doesn’t understand that some of them are fraught with meaning that she didn’t realize.”
Watch her comments below:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Rep. Ilhan Omar: "I don't think our colleague is anti-Semitic. I think she has a different experience in the use of words, doesn't understand that some of them are fraught with meaning that she didn't realize." pic.twitter.com/dbYJTO7uzh
— The Hill (@thehill) March 8, 2019
Needless to say, Pelosi’s remarks were met with confusion on social media, with many users pointing out that her dismissal was not only a poor excuse but also offensive to Omar.
Check out some of the critical reactions from all sides:
According to Speaker Pelosi Ilhan Omar has so little knowledge of English and history that she repeats long standing dog whistles of anti-semitism. Alternatively, it may just reflect what she really believes https://t.co/l8vSYEr6PZ
— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) March 9, 2019
Omar says something anti-Semitic.
Pelosi: She just doesn't understand anti-Semitic tropes.
Omar says something else anti-Semitic.
Pelosi: She just doesn't understand…words.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 8, 2019
Well, that's misogynistic & insulting for Pelosi to claim Ilhan Omar is too foreign (& too dumb apparently) to understand the meaning of her own words.pic.twitter.com/W98wmuZ2ts
— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) March 8, 2019
Nancy Pelosi's defense of Ilhan Omar is a condescendingly racist word salad that shows maybe Omar's "experience in the use of words" is far stronger than the Speaker of the House's
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) March 8, 2019
Omar is 37 has lived here for 24 years & is a college graduate
She knows exactly what she's saying & her words aren't the problem
It's her bigoted & anti-Semitic beliefs pic.twitter.com/243MYlEdvR
— Jim Hanson (@Uncle_Jimbo) March 8, 2019
Pelosi, trying to explain how Omar's repeated anti-Semitism isn't actually anti-Semitism because she's too stupid (inexperienced) to know what words to use. pic.twitter.com/qABB9vwD5o
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) March 8, 2019
Pelosi’s comments come after Omar found herself in hot water yet again for remarks on Israel that invoked the idea of “dual loyalty.” Her words were deemed anti-Semitic by many and fell in line with the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism.
I have not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel, I have questioned it and that has been clear from my end.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 3, 2019
As IJR Red reported, Omar took heat from conservatives and even President Donald Trump himself in the wake of the controversy.
Representative Ilhan Omar is again under fire for her terrible comments concerning Israel. Jewish groups have just sent a petition to Speaker Pelosi asking her to remove Omar from Foreign Relations Committee. A dark day for Israel!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2019
In the face of backlash, Democrats drafted a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism but later postponed the vote after pressure from the more left-leaning wing of the party and outside leftist groups, as IJR Red noted.
They eventually expanded the resolution to condemn other forms of bigotry and failed to specifically mention Omar in it. The move was highly criticized by Republicans, with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) calling it a “sham” resolution and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) calling it “a deceitful way for Dems to give Omar cover.”
While the resolution ultimately passed, 23 Republican members of Congress took a stand by voting against it.