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Progressives Urge Democratic Leaders to Fight Back Against '200 MPH Right-Wing War Machine' Targeting Ilhan Omar

"Democratic leadership thinks it can avoid fights and controversy and get back to normal. It is wrong. There is no more normal."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has struggled to contain the furor from all corners of her caucus over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s controversial comments. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Progressives are increasing pressure on the Democratic leadership and 2020 presidential candidates, demanding they stand up for Rep. Ilhan Omar as she faces vicious and dangerous attacks from Republican lawmakers and the right-wing media.

"Democrats running for president in 2020 need to rally behind Ilhan Omar," tweeted Max Berger, co-founder of the youth-led American Jewish advocacy group IfNotNow.

"I would love to see Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren come out swinging in her defense," Berger added. "She's getting targeted by the worst people for the worst reasons. Dems need to show they can push back against Fox and Trump."

With the exception of a handful of Omar's progressive colleagues—including Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—Democrats have largely been silent as the Minnesota congresswoman has faced vitriolic and racist smears from right-wing outlets, including the New York Post and Fox News.

"When you are faced with this war machine, you've gotta fight back."
—Waleed Shahid, Justice Democrats

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As Common Dreams reported Thursday, progressives are growing increasingly concerned the right-wing media hysteria could provoke a violent attack on Omar.

In an appearance on MSNBC's "All in With Chris Hayes" Thursday night, Waleed Shahid—communications director for progressive advocacy group Justice Democrats—pointed out that the Democratic leadership has been nowhere to be found as the right's attacks on Omar continue to intensify.

"There's a 200 mph ideological right-wing war machine coming after Ilhan Omar, and also Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. My question is: Where is the Democratic Party leadership on this?" Shahid asked. "You didn't see that many comments today from candidates running for president in 2020, you didn't see that many comments from Nancy Pelosi or Steny Hoyer or Chuck Schumer for that matter."

"Instead what we've seen is a pattern from the Democratic Party leadership that tries to distance themselves away from these three women—instead of seeing these women as the rising leaders in the party who they have to fight for," added Shahid. "When you are faced with this war machine, you've gotta fight back, and you've gotta defend people in your party."

David Roberts, climate writer at Vox, echoed Shahid, urging Democrats to stop dodging this fight and stand firmly on the side of Omar and her progressive allies.

"Democratic leadership thinks it can avoid fights and controversy and get back to normal. It is wrong. There is no more normal," Roberts tweeted. "There is a global struggle underway between white ethnocentric nationalism and multi-ethnic democracy governed by rule of law. Time to f'ing join the fight."

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