Politics

NYU Students Explain Why They Confronted Chelsea Clinton

On Friday night, New York University students Leen Dweik and Rose Asaf attended a vigil for the victims of the New Zealand mosque massacre at the university's Islamic Center. The two were surprised to see former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, after she had criticized representative Ilhan Omar last month, tweeting out, "Co-signed as an American. We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism."

In a tell-all article they wrote for BuzzFeed, Dweik and Asaf said:

As a Jewish American-Israeli and a Palestinian Muslim, we understand far too well the consequences of anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim bigotry, and white supremacy. And as activists who are unafraid to speak the truth, we know we have a duty to call out any bigotry wherever it exists.

The two believe Clinton needed to be confronted because she "used her platform to fan [the] flames" of the issue against Omar."We believe that Ilhan Omar did nothing wrong except challenge the status quo, but the way many people chose to criticize Omar made her vulnerable to anti-Muslim hatred and death threats."

They continued, "When we saw Chelsea, we saw an opportunity to have her ear and confront her on her false charge of anti-Semitism against our only Black, Muslim, Somali, and refugee member of Congress." In an interview with The Washington Post, Asaf said that by using "as an American" Clinton propagates an "anti-immigrant trope." "To me, when speaking of someone who is a refugee, it's a dog whistle, it's signaling this is a patriotic issue and that nationalism excludes people like Ilhan Omar," she said.

In the copyrighted video which was posted on Twitter, Clinton is heard saying, "I'm so sorry you feel that way. Certainly, that was never my intention. I do believe words matter." Dweik responds, saying, "This right here is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words you put out into the world. And I want you to know that, and I want you to feel that deep inside." She continues, "Forty-nine people died because of the rhetoric that you put out there."

After Dweik responds, you can hear many of those around her snapping in agreement. And when Clinton, again, tries to apologize with the same very careful words, a voice can be heard asking, "What does 'I'm sorry that you feel that' mean?"

Watch the short video below.

Following the posting of the video, some people have come to the defense of Clinton, calling this confrontation an "aggressive" attack. People are saying that this "harassment" was unnecessary because the former first daughter is in no way responsible for the New Zealand mosque shooting.

But the point which these people attacking Dweik is missing, which Twitter user Eoin Higgins points out, is that the students are calling her out for "[fanning] the flames of Islamophobia." They did not accuse Clinton of being responsible for the massacre, but confronted her because her rhetoric propagates this kind of extremist behavior.

And as Dweik points out in her own tweets, "i didn't tell chelsea clinton she was the one who put a gun to muslims' heads. i said, & continue to say, that by jumping on the right-wing bandwagon & villifying ilhan omar, she fed into the EXACT discourse we were at the vigil to protest."

Read Dweik's full explanation for her actions in the thread below:

Image via Getty

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