Ms. Ocasio-Cortez Goes to Washington: AOC shamed into un-liking antiwar journalist’s tweet, apologizing for wrongthink
Ocasio-Cortez (AOC, for short) stepped a little too far outside the mainstream when she clicked ‘like’ on a tweet by journalist Rania Khalek about US fears of Iranian retaliation over the killing of General Qassem Soleimani. An army of blue-checks and their enforcers quickly encircled her to point out the error of her ways, gloating when she finally knuckled under and apologized.
Last night the President engaged in what is widely being recognized as an act of war against Iran, one that now risks the lives of millions of innocent people.Now is the moment to prevent war & protect innocent people - the question for many is how, publicly & Congressionally:— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 3, 2020
AOC was one of the few Democratic politicians credibly horrified by President Donald Trump’s unprovoked attack, and to her credit she immediately took to Twitter to denounce it, calling out an “act of war against Iran” that “risks the lives of millions of innocent people.”
A friend flying into the US says he hasn’t seen so much security since 9/11. The US is terrified of how Iran will retaliate. Iran won’t attack civilians, that’s what al Qaeda does. But it shows this assassination did the opposite of making Americans safer and our leaders know it.— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) January 5, 2020
Khalek’s tweet was largely in the same vein, making the point that “this assassination did the opposite of making Americans safer and our leaders know it.”
But it wasn’t the content of the tweet that infuriated these social media hall monitors, who have been gently prodding AOC toward an anodyne centrism since she arrived in Washington; it was the account doing the tweeting. Khalek is an outspoken opponent of US foreign policy, particularly the draconian sanctions and endless regime-change wars that have all but destroyed large swathes of the Middle East over the past two decades. She has made a lot of enemies in standing up for the US’s bogeymen, and they came out in force to concern-troll AOC.
“I’m a big fan, but did you know you’ve committed a thoughtcrime?” seemed to be the general message.
AOC liking a tweet by a Syrian war crimes denier who says Iran doesn’t target civilians is one way to start the week. It’s possible to be critical of this situation without being ahistorical. pic.twitter.com/Jjl3irQGXK— Miriam Elder (@MiriamElder) January 6, 2020
Hi @AOC, I am 1 of those ppl who disagrees w/ you, yet respects you and your work a lot. I wanted to let you know that you have been following/liking tweets of someone who spent the last 5yrs whitewashing mass murder in the Mid East. Rania is a full time Assad whitewasher. pic.twitter.com/SO5onqAmev— S. Rifai (@THE_47th) January 6, 2020
Some, like ‘professional troll’ Maryam Nayeb Yazdi, who has made no secret of her loathing for Iran’s current government, deleted their tweets after AOC was badgered into un-liking Khalek’s message and - supposedly - apologizing via Direct Message for her ‘crime’.
The pressure campaign from pro-war trolls worked. @AOC unliked @RaniaKhalek’s tweet and thanked them for alerting her that she committed a thought crime. Disturbing that she allows herself to be pressured by such bullying. What happens when it’s over something more meaningful? https://t.co/TIM5rHtA8Rpic.twitter.com/GkDmRXfeLu— Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) January 7, 2020
But merely apologizing and unliking the tweet wasn’t enough for some - one regime change fan actually called for a memo to be circulated in Congress to warn “progressive members” about Khalek and fellow anti-war journalists Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton. Clearly, a preemptive strike against wrongthink was needed.
Someone needs to circulate a memo among progressive members of Congress about Khalek, Blumenthal, and Norton. The embarrassment over unknowingly (and, yes, it's not intentional, don't be a giddy fool) retweeting or liking agitprop is unnecessary.— Abe Silberstein (@abesilbe) January 7, 2020
It’s hardly the first time AOC has made a bold statement and then ran in the other direction - she was shamed away from speaking out against the Israeli occupation of Palestine before she was even officially elected to Congress, and more recently she was the subject of a Twitter pile-on when she attempted to speak up for UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Nor is it the first time a ’progressive’ US politician has had their knuckles rapped for veering too far outside the accepted mainstream. Even Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, one of the loudest voices in Washington speaking out against the US’s regime change wars, has been forced to adopt the establishment line about Syrian President Bashar Assad, with whom she met in 2017 in the service of finding a peaceful solution to the decade-long war the US has waged in his country. Following an avalanche of media criticism that is still ongoing nearly three years later, Gabbard has called Assad an evil dictator.Also on rt.com War over Iran already raging on Twitter: users call for Trump ban, claim suspension over ‘No war on Iran’ image
Unfortunately, there are no progressive role models in Congress for AOC (or Gabbard, for that matter) to look up to as an example of how to stick to one’s principles and stand against war. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, while a steadfast supporter of the rights of the working class, has largely toed the line on foreign policy throughout his career, lining up with the rest of Congress to demand Assad, Venezuela's Maduro - or whoever the bogeyman of the moment is - must go. Even the standard-bearers of the rabidly anti-Trump Democratic Party limited their criticism of the Soleimani strike to the president’s failure to gain approval from Congress first. AOC may have to choose between being on the right side of history and being embraced by her party - and its Twitter enforcers.
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