Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is paying dearly for taking a supposed “fact-finding” trip to Syria — and I don't just mean having to repay the costs of her travel to pro-Assad activist Bassam Khawam and his dubious Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services (Aaccess) group.
Even longtime fawning supporters like Civil Beat are criticizing her one-woman attempts at diplomacy, which resulted in her being used as a propaganda tool for Bashar-al Assad and denouncing all the rebels as terrorists.
Ah, if only that bloody conflict could be defined so simply, with no condemnation of Assad's murderous, tyrannical reign.
Are people finally starting to realize that Tulsi is a self-serving opportunist who is primarily interested in positioning herself within the limelight? I mean, come on, timing the trip to coincide with the inauguration? Failing to inform the House committee on foreign relations, of which she is a member? Having a Syrian nationalist pick up the tab and serve as her escort?
In this case, it appears her relationship with former Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich and his wife, who have previously taken Aaccess-funded trips to meet with Assad, have again led Tulsi astray. Elizabeth Kucinich is a prominent organics/anti-GMO activist and former policy director for the Center for Food Safety who was instrumental in drafting Tulsi into the anti-GMO movement. Both Kucinichs joined Tulsi on the trip.
A report in The Guardian quotes Tulsi as saying:
Whatever you think of President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria. In order for any possibility of a viable peace agreement to occur, there has to be a conversation with him.
Uh, yeah, maybe. But why does Tulsi think she is the one to do it? And after apparently meeting only with Assad loyalists, does she really think she's akamai enough on the issue to make this pronouncement in her recent Star-Advertiser guest commentary?
Repeatedly I was told there is no difference between ‘moderate’ rebels and al-Qaeda (al-Nusra) or Isis – they are all the same.
Told by whom, though? The people lined up by those who paid for her trip, got her an audience with Assad and made sure she was able to get out of the country with the puff piece footage filmed by her husband?
Here we have yet another example of so-called “progessives” being on the wrong side of an issue.
Which is why Tulsi's action earned her the praise of white supremacist Richard B. Spencer, who Tweeted that Gabbard is “brave and the kind of person we need in the diplomatic corps,” and former KKK leader David Duke, who Tweeted that she was “speaking the truth.”
As Kauai resident Luke Evslin recently wrote on Facebook:
Let me clearly say that the Syrian Civil War is complicated and that there are evil actors on both sides who have committed war crimes. Nobody has proposed a workable solution. The lessons of American intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya are still important to remember.
But, to vote against allowing Syrian refugees into the country, and then to claim that the war was caused by the US, and then to claim that all rebels are terrorists, and then to meet with a brutal genocidal dictator and parrot his talking points as the only way towards peace-- is incredibly disingenuous.
Sadly, disingenuous rhetoric and actions are the MO of the anti-GMO movement — and too many other "progressive" groups these days — and Tulsi has learned it well.
Still, her new BFFs in the white supremacist movement remind me of another Facebook post I saw regarding the opposition to Trump's executive order on immigrants and refugees:
If Michael Moore, the Pope, the Kochs, and Dick Cheney are in basic agreement on an issue, and you're on the other side, don't you think it's worth some soul searching to ask yourself why?
Which prompted one person to comment: "I never thought I'd be on the same side with Cheney and the Koch billionaires."
See, it is possible to find common ground. Perhaps the Trump presidency will inadverently work to unite unlikely allies. And that would be a good thing, because we're all in this together.
It's also been amusing to see how, in classic American capitalist fashion, the protests are being co-opted for advertisements, branding and publications. But corporations must tread carefully, because pleasing one group may mean pissing off another. Though Starbucks got props when it announced plans to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years in the 75 countries where it does business, the action also spawned a #BoycottStarbucks backlash. Uber got similarly blasted for continuing to operate at the JFK airport while NY taxi drivers waged a solidarity strike in support of protestors.
Budweiser is planning to air a 60-second pro-immigrant commercial during the Super Bowl, which is likely to earn it pats and cracks as well.
My favorite, though, was the display window in a women's boutique that featured well-dressed mannequins holding signs related to women's rights. It prominently featured the placard: “Clothes won't change the world. The women who wear them will. — Anne Klein”
Ah, yes, make sure you're dressed right for the march.
Seems that even in the midst of international turmoil, there's still room for the superficial. To paraphrase the words of Dubya after 9-11: Now get out there and shop.