The controversy surrounding freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar’s tweet accusing a pro-Israel group of paying members of Congress for votes shows lawmakers must take care when criticizing ethnic or religious groups, Rep. Jim Himes said Monday.
“People in public office should feel comfortable opining on things,” the Connecticut Democrat told CNN’s “New Day.” “It’s perfectly legitimate to criticize Israel or the pro-Israel lobby. Just be careful to do it in a way that can’t be interpreted as being anti-Semitic.”
Omar’s tweet has come under fire from persons on both sides of the aisle, and Himes agreed that the matter is a call “for all of us to be very, very specific about what it is we are saying so that we don’t come off as being anti-Semitic, racist, bigoted.”
He added the example of the controversies in Virginia, whose governor has been accused of racism after a photo from his yearbook page surfaced, showing one man in a Ku Klux Klan robe and another in blackface.
“Let’s all be especially careful about what we say in the fact that, you know, what I, for example, as a northeastern white man might consider legitimate discourse may be heard differently by African-Americans,” said Himes.