Tuesday, June 11, 2024

From Scarsdale To Dearborn, Enough with the Dogwhistles Already

Incumbent Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) is facing a tough primary challenge from fellow Democrat George Latimer. Much of the heat in the primary has centered around Israel (Bowman is a harsh critic; Latimer has AIPAC backing), and in that context Latimer claimed in a public debate that Bowman's constituency is not the local residents of New York, but rather "Dearborn, Michigan" (and "San Francisco, California"). Dearborn is well-known for its large Arab and Muslim population, and so Bowman quickly called him out for the racist "dog-whistle".

I, of course, immediately harkened back to not-so-fond memories of Antone Melton-Meaux's 2020 primary challenge to Ilhan Omar,* where Omar's campaign sent out a mailer highlighting her challenger's donor support, singling out one from the heavily Jewish suburb of "Scarsdale, New York" (all of the named donors in Omar's mailer were also Jewish). This, too, was pounced on by Omar's opponents and said to be an antisemitic dog-whistle.

Latimer's defenders say he was merely highlighting Bowman's lack of local support. Omar's defenders likewise contended she was being unjustly smeared as a critic of Israel.

So, is this sort of attack a dog-whistle? Quick -- everybody switch sides!

In all seriousness, if you condemned the Omar campaign for its "Scarsdale mailer" you don't get to give Latimer a pass on this. And likewise, if you poo-pooed the Scarsdale mailer as a ginned up controversy over nothing you can sit right down in your high dudgeon over the Dearborn remark.

(My answer: Both instances were shady and both politicians deserved to be called out on it.)

* I'm bemused to rediscover that my blogpost on this controversy was titled "I Have To Talk About Omar and Melton-Meaux, Don't I?", which really captures a certain mood, doesn't it?