On Saturday morning, not even six months after the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, a 19-year-old man walked into the Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego and opened fire with an AR-15, injuring three people, including an 8-year-old girl, and killing one woman who jumped in front of the rabbi.
There is little confirmed information on the attack out yet. A man with the same name as the shooter reportedly posted a manifesto to social media, claiming responsibility for an attempted arson at a local mosque last month, and stating that he drew inspiration from both the Tree of Life shooting and last month's mass shooting at mosques in New Zealand—both of which drew on right-wing white supremacist ideology that vilified non-white refugees. Yet, on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, Meghan McCain was quick to draw a connection between this most recent attack and Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar, a Muslim refugee herself. In a clip, McCain says:
"When we’re having conversations about anti-Semitism, we should be looking at the most extreme on both sides. I would bring up Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and some of her comments that got so much attention, and in my opinion Nancy Pelosi wasn't harsh enough on her for trafficking in anti-Semitic language, talking about, ‘All about the Benjamins,’ and how Jewish people had 'hypnotized' the world."
McCain was not the only conservative figure who rushed to blame Omar. Ted Cruz, for example, tweeted about a New York Times political cartoon on Sunday, writing, "The anti-Semitic Left—whether @IlhanMN repeated anti-Israel slurs or @nytimes apologizing for Hamas terrorists (eg, on 3/14/18) & running racist cartoons—is getting worse...Responsible Dems need to say Enough is Enough." As of yet, Cruz still hasn't tweeted anything about the San Diego shooting. And McCain, in redirecting the conversation to Omar's comments instead of examining the explicit connection between right-wing anti-immigrant, anti-diversity talking points and the rise in extremist violence, does little to help the cause of fighting anti-Semitism, particularly as they are related to domestic white supremacist threats.
McCain's refrain reflects Donald Trump's now infamous comments after the 2017 white supremacist Unite the Right rally, during which anti-racist protestor Heather Heyer was murdered, that there were "some very fine people on both sides." This kind of deflection away from white supremacists has only been beneficial for white supremacists. Under Trump, the Department of Homeland Security disbanded its domestic terror intelligence unit, which focuses on homegrown extremism. And some Republican rhetoric on immigration and race is so similar to that of white supremacists that Twitter reportedly can't develop an algorithm that can tell the two apart.
Hate crimes have been on the rise—and the clearest connections aren't to a freshman congresswoman from Minnesota. Counties that hosted Trump rallies in 2016 saw a 226 percent rise in hate crimes afterward.