Black members of Congress are standing by U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib after the sole Palestinian-American serving in Congress was censured by her House colleagues for remarks she made about the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“We’re moving into a new era and with a posture that I think does not serve the country well,” U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md., told theGrio. “You just can’t dislike somebody and want to censure them.
“Aside from Tlaib being the only Palestinian, the question really becomes, are we denying free speech?” Mfume questioned.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., told theGrio in a statement, “The vote to censure Congresswoman Tlaib is more evidence of the obsession in Congress with policing progressive women of color.”
Pressley, a part of the liberal House faction known as “The Squad” alongside Tlaib, continued, “With the death toll of Palestinian civilians over 10,000 and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza worsening daily, it is damning that my colleagues — on both sides of the aisle — would be more concerned with silencing the first Palestinian-American elected to Congress than pushing for a ceasefire and saving lives.”
Earlier this week, Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Ga., introduced a resolution to censure the Michigan congresswoman, accusing her of promoting false narratives regarding Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.
In the resolution, McCormick specifically mentioned he wanted Tlaib censured for her use of the slogan “from the river to the sea,” which some deem antisemitic.
Tlaib was also censured for her allegation that Israel bombed a hospital in Gaza that left hundreds dead and for stating that the conditions that Palestinians faced in the Gaza Strip could “lead to resistance” when making reference to the Hamas attack.
On Tuesday evening, 234 House members voted to censure the Michigan congresswoman, while 188 voted against the resolution.
Before the House vote, a defiant Tlaib took to the House floor to speak out against her colleagues in support of the censure.
“I will not be silenced, and I will not let you distort my words,” said Tlaib. “Folks forget I’m from Detroit, the most beautiful, Blackest city in the country where I learn to speak truth to power.”
She added, “Trying to bully or censor me won’t work, because this movement for a cease-fire is much bigger than one person.”
Rep. Mfume told theGrio many members of the House “continue to say that they are at odds with the comments that she’s made.”
“But, at the end of the day, if this is a nation founded on free speech and freedom of religion and so many other freedoms,” he said, “there’s no way in the world that you cannot protect the freedom of speech, even if it’s speech that you don’t like it.”
Twenty-two Democrats joined the vast majority of House Republicans to censure Tlaib, including Reps. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.
On Wednesday, activist Tamika Mallory, a prominent figure in the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, took to social media to blast both Reps. Torres and Wilson, who are Black.
Mallory called Torres “horrible,” stating, “We need a candidate to run against him ASAP. I will work night and day to vote him out of office.”
She then wrote, “Frederica Wilson, a Black woman from Florida, who has turned to the community for help when she was being attacked, say it ain’t so.”
“For Ms. Frederica, a senior woman, to vote against Rashida and support a PUBLIC LYNCHING…wow… This is disgusting,” Mallory continued.
Rep. Cori Bush, also a member of “The Squad,” condemned her Democratic colleagues on X, formerly Twitter, for voting to censure Tlaib.
“[Tlaib] stands for all humanity. She isn’t a danger to anyone,” wrote Bush. “But yesterday you further endangered her and attempted to silence her. All because she dares to speak up for the humanity of Palestinians, for children, for her family.”
Congressman Mfume said that while members of Congress who voted in favor of the censure “retain the right to vote how they want,” the voting public also has a right to “challenge any member of the House or the Senate…if they are voting in a way that they don’t like.”
He added, “The easiest way to do that is every two years when there is an election.”
Mfume said Tlaib’s censuring is certainly “not a position anybody wants to be in.” However, he noted her censure is somewhat “mild” in that she was not removed from her committee assignments and is still an active member of Congress.
“They want to censure her words, and so they will strike her words from the public record that’s established by the Congress,” Mfume explained.
The censuring of Rep. Tlaib comes just a week after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., tried to censure the Michigan congresswoman. Greene’s efforts failed when 23 Republicans voted to table the resolution.
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