Politics

Texas Republican Goes To Bat for QAnon Congresswoman

Brian Babin is  the U.S. representative from District 36 in East Texas.
Brian Babin is the U.S. representative from District 36 in East Texas. Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
U.S. Representative Brian Babin is upset that House Democrats don’t want a prominent conspiracy theorist to serve out her committee assignments.

In fact, the Texas Republican is so upset that he’s retaliated.

This week, the House Rules Committee announced that a vote will take place today over whether to strip U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments.

In response, Babin introduced on Tuesday a similar measure targeting U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota.

Babin’s measure would remove Omar from her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The whole controversy erupted in recent weeks after media outlets around the country unearthed a slew of troubling statements that Greene has made on social media.

Take, for instance, Greene’s claim that there’s “never any evidence shown” for the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon. There’s also her promotion of the QAnon conspiracy theory, as well as her suggestion that deadly mass shootings at schools were hoaxes.
Oh, and she’s voiced support for executing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to recent media reports.

In a statement, Babin dubbed the House Rules Committee a “kangaroo court.”

He also insisted that stripping Greene of her assignments would “shatter” a precedent of allowing the minority party to “choose from their ranks who will sit on as many committee seats as they are allotted for that Congress.

“However, if the Democrat Majority wants to go down this road, they should start by dealing with their own members who have been at this before and AFTER their election to Congress,” the statement continued. “And there is no worse offender than Ilhan Omar.”

As evidence, Babin tweeted a list of comments Omar has made. Many were statements critical of Israel that Omar's detractors have said constitute anti-Semitism. None endorsed the murder of the speaker of the U.s. House.

On Wednesday, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy weighed in, saying he opposes stripping Greene of her assignments.

One of the country’s first female Muslim congresswomen, Omar is regularly targeted by Republicans, a fact that her defenders chalk up to anti-Muslim bigotry.

Babin represents Texas Congressional District 36, an area that includes Hardin, Jasper, Liberty, Newton, Orange, Polk and Tyler counties, as well as small portions of Chambers and Harris counties.

Faizan Syed is executive director at the DFW chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) nonprofit group.

He said Babin’s move against Omar amounts to “whataboutism,” arguing that Omar “is nothing close to Representative Greene and the statements she’s made.”

“It’s an ugly, Islamophobic, racist tactic used by — unfortunately — a growing number of Republicans in order to justify the absolutely unacceptable statements made by some members of their party,” Syed told the Observer.

“I draw the line at denying September 11 and denying mass shootings like the one at Sandy Hook,” he added.

“He defends her by demonizing and attacking Muslims in this country. If Representative Babin had any decency he would retract and apologize after this.”

A spokesperson for Babin did not reply to the Observer’s request for comment.

Omar returned fire in a statement on Wednesday, dismissing Babin’s comparison between her and Greene as “a desperate smear rooted in racism, misogyny, and Islamophobia.”

“The House Republican Caucus, instead of holding her accountable, is now fanning the flames,” Omar said. “Republicans will do anything to distract from the fact that they have not only allowed but elevated members of their own caucus who encourage violence.”
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Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.