AOC on House BDS resolution: If we punish nonviolent forms of protest, it might force people into violence

AOC on House BDS resolution: If we punish nonviolent forms of protest, it might force people into violence

Why, my dear congresswoman, is that a threat?

Of course it’s not a threat, AOC would say. She says right there in the quote below that she hates violence, doesn’t she? Right, but in practice it amounts to “Let me get my way or don’t be surprised if people end up hurt.” If we discourage boycotts of Israel, even with nothing stronger than a frowny-face resolution in the House, then we shouldn’t act shocked later when people start, say, vandalizing Israel-linked businesses to express their frustration instead.

Which was already happening in Rashida Tlaib’s backyard, by the way, even before yesterday’s resolution passed.

The point is to preemptively shift blame away from the violent actor and onto his nonviolent critics:

Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday that BDS is “a tough issue, especially for constituencies back home,” but told BuzzFeed News that “ultimately it comes down to protecting free speech. And my concern with being overly punitive on nonviolent forms of protest is that it forces people into other channels and I would hate to be a part of, you know, paving that kind of path.”

But Ocasio-Cortez said she wasn’t disappointed by how few Democrats voted with her, saying, “I don’t think so. … I saw how those votes were going.”

What’s she saying here about BDS supporters, wonders Noah Pollak?

The resolution condemning BDS ended up passing 398-17, with Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar — but not Ayanna Pressley, the fourth member of the Squad, interestingly — voting no. I reiterate a point made in yesterday’s post: The resolution wasn’t “punitive” towards free speech in any way, not “overly” and not minimally. It suggested no sanction for BDS supporters. It was the legislative equivalent of a thumbs-down emoji. If merely indicating disapproval of BDS is enough to force adherents into “other channels” then we have a major problem.

But that’s of a piece with AOC’s view of criticism generally. Remember, her response to Pelosi’s jabs at the Squad was to wonder if she had a problem with women of color and to note that the four members were receiving death threats. Criticism of Ocasio-Cortez and her causes is perpetually deemed illegitimate at best and dangerous incitement at worst, even when it’s coming from Democratic leaders. Go figure that she’d view a toothless House resolution as potential justification for a terrorist backlash.

This “don’t criticize me or else” logic wouldn’t fly for her in other contexts, needless to say. If a Trump fan threw a rock through her campaign-office window, she’d be irate if the White House spun it as a regrettable but understandable burst of frustration over the recent House resolution condemning Trump’s “go back where you came from” tweets about the Squad. “If the president can’t express his opposition to their views through nonviolent means without formal disapproval from Congress,” the WH press office might say, “then we can’t be surprised when his fans decide that violent opposition is the only alternative.” That response would itself be condemned, correctly, as de facto incitement, possibly even drawing a second rebuke from the House. But here’s AOC embracing the same thought process for the BDS movement. No one will bat an eye, because who cares what one of the most influential politicians in America says about something like this? She’s not the president, right?

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