The women who confronted Chelsea Clinton explain why (Update: Activist apologizes for old tweets)

Over the weekend, Karen wrote about the two college student activists who confronted Chelsea Clinton at a vigil for the people killed in Christchurch, New Zealand. One of the women accused Chelsea of being responsible for the attack because she had criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar’s anti-semitic comments in a tweet. How could a tweet against anti-Semitism be responsible for a white supremacist attack on mosques on the other side of the world? Fortunately, the two activists who confronted Chelsea wrote a piece for Buzzfeed explaining why:

We did a double take when we first noticed Chelsea Clinton was at the vigil. Just weeks before this tragedy, we bore witness to a bigoted, anti-Muslim mob coming after Rep. Ilhan Omar for speaking the truth about the massive influence of the Israel lobby in this country. 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.

Notice how a comment about Rep. Omar isn’t seen as an individual rebuke but as stoking hatred against an entire community. And that hatred somehow circulated in the ether and caused the shooter to attack innocent people on the other side of the planet. As a reminder, here’s the extent of what Chelsea said.

In this case, Chelsea isn’t just being a busybody on the public scene. Her husband is Jewish so her kids are partly Jewish. No doubt it’s her family she’s thinking abotu when making these comments. But the thought-crime Chelsea has committed here has to do with solidarity. According to these authors, criticizing any member of the left’s coalition, even if you’re doing so in defense of another part of that coalition, violates solidarity:

We know that our only safety is through solidarity. The fight against anti-Muslim bigotry is the fight against anti-Semitism is the fight against racism is the fight against white supremacy. When someone attacks one of us, they attack all of us. We know that our struggles are intertwined, and for any of us to be safe, all of us must be safe.

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.

You can sort of game out where this leads. You shouldn’t criticize any individual because that would be an attack on that person’s group. And an attack on one group is an attack on all minority groups because “our struggles are intertwined.” But if it’s wrong to criticize Rep. Omar, why is it okay for these women to criticize Chelsea Clinton? Shouldn’t these activists show solidarity with Chelsea rather than try to shut her down in public? After all, she’s on the left too.

But as the authors say, this isn’t about left or right. It’s about power and Chelsea is from a group that has power (white people). But if Chelsea were to snap back, that would be an attack on a Jewish woman and a Palestinian woman and therefore both anti-Semitic and Islamophobic (and probably white supremacist). Does that sound crazy? Yes, but remember these women have already blamed Chelsea for the actions of a white supremacist mass murderer, so they definitely see her as more like him than she is like them.

Hopefully, you see the game these women are playing here. I do but I wonder if Chelsea Clinton sees it. And I wonder if she realizes people on her side of the aisle have lost their minds. I suspect she does but won’t say so in public for fear of being targeted by the left-wing mob.

There’s a little coda to this story. After Buzzfeed published this explainer someone noticed that one of the authors wrote this tweet last week saying “demolishing Israel IS a solution.”

Now we know why she doesn’t have a problem with anything Rep. Omar said. Finally, here’s Alan Dershowitz on this tactic. “It’s designed to stifle debate and everybody should recognize that,” Dershowitz says. He’s right.

Update: One of the two activists had a bunch of older tweets using the N-word and the word “fa**ot”:

She has now apologized for those statements (but not for wanting to see Israel “demolished”):