Sunday 10 December 2023

Hakeem Jeffries Issues Challenge to GOP to Punish Him After Bowman Learns His Fate

 Does House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries plan on illegally pulling any fire alarms anytime in the near future?

Just curious.

After all, it’s certainly strange that, after the House of Representatives voted to censure “squad” member Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York for pulling a fire alarm and thus delaying a vote on budgetary matters back in September, Jeffries seemed positively defiant about it — as he dared Republicans to do something to him.

The 214-191 vote on Thursday, essentially along party lines, came after GOP Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan introduced the censure resolution.


“It is reprehensible that a Member of Congress would go to such lengths to prevent House Republicans from bringing forth a vote to keep the government operating and Americans receiving their paychecks,” she said in a statement, according to NPR.

However, as NPR pointed out, Bowman “said that at the time he was trying to get through a door that was usually open but was closed that day because it was the weekend.”

Right. Which is why video surveillance video shows him taking down signs that say “Emergency exit only, push until alarm sounds” and not actually going through the door.

This excuse, given the accompanying footage, almost makes former Rep. George Santos’ infamous “I never claimed to be Jewish [but] because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish’” seem positively believable. Almost.

Various House Democrats came up with with excuses for Bowman’s actions — including Bowman himself, who said that censuring him for an illegal act (for which he paid a $1,000 fine and is serving three months probation for), and then consistently peddling what appear to be obvious lies about why he did it, is proof the House GOP are a bunch of unstable reactionaries.

“It’s painfully obvious to myself, my colleagues and the American people that the Republican Party is deeply unserious and unable to legislate,” Bowman said Wednesday on the floor of the House.

“Their censure resolution against me today continues to demonstrate their inability to govern and serve the American people.”

However, also on Bowman’s side was Minority Leader Jeffries, whose argument was that, if the Republicans were going to punish Bowman, they might as well punish him, too.

“Censure me next. That’s how worthless your effort is,” Jeffries said during floor debate.

“It has no credibility. No integrity. No legitimacy. Censure me next, and I’ll take that censure and I’ll wear it next week, next month, next year like a badge of honor.”

Did Jeffries commit an illegal act? Is he currently on probation? Did he have to pay a fine for pulling a fire alarm in a move that just conveniently happened to delay a floor vote Bowman had reason to want to delay? Because, you know, if he wants Republicans to censure him next, it’d be awfully handy if he did something that would merit it.

It’s unclear whether this challenge was meant to implicitly highlight the fact that both Bowman and Jeffries are black and therefore dog-whistle that punishing Bowman for breaking the law was racist. Or maybe the minority leader had simply run out of rhetorical devices with which he could plausibly defend Bowman and wished to water down the effect of the vote.

However, if he does really want the scarlet C affixed to his record, it’s worth pointing out that, during his time as an undergraduate at Binghamton University in upstate New York, Jeffries penned an Op-Ed in which he defended two anti-Semites — Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and his uncle, City College of New York black studies professor Leonard Jeffries, who was fired for his anti-Jewish remarks.

“Do you think that a ruling elite would promote individuals who would seek to dismantle their vice-like grip on power?” Jeffries wrote in the 1992 article, blaming the “white media” and “white power structure” for controversies surrounding the men.

“Dr. Leonard Jeffries and Minister Louis Farrakhan have come under intense fire,” he continued. “Where do you think their interests lie? Dr. Jeffries has challenged the existing white supremist educational system and long standing distortion of history. His reward has been a media lynching complete with character assassinations and inflammatory erroneous accusations.”

Now, granted, this was back in 1992, but it’s not as if he — or anyone else familiar with the American sociopolitical landscape — didn’t know what Farrakhan was about at the time, given that he was fond of referring to Jewish people as “termites.” In 1984, he said that “Hitler was a very great man,” and in 1985, he gave this warning to Jewish people: “Don’t you forget, when it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever!”

This is, mind you, about 0.1 percent of every incendiary comment Farrakhan has ever made about the Jewish people. But, yes, it was all that goshdarned white power structure, according to Jeffries’ piece. And keep in mind that Jeffries has never particularly disowned the piece or his uncle in any clear way, with CNN reporting that his defense was a claim he only had “a vague recollection” of his uncle’s controversies and that “[t]here was no internet during that era.”

Granted, now that Bowman has been censured for a crime of much more recent provenance, I’d be perfectly happy for the House of Representatives to move on to more pressing matters. But if Jeffries is really serious about that whole “censure me next” twaddle and the whole affair takes up only an afternoon, sure, why not censure him — and every other legislator who has defended or palled around with one of America’s most notorious anti-Semites — and get it over with?

You can’t say the man wasn’t quite literally asking for it, after all.

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