At a vigil for the Christchurch mosque shootings, NYU students accused Chelsea Clinton of ‘stoking’ Islamophobia with her ‘rhetoric.’ Twitter users shut down the claims.
Twitter users were horrified to see Chelsea Clinton, 39, be blamed for the deaths of the 49 victims of the New Zealand mosque shootings. After a gunman opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch on March 14, the former president’s daughter paid her respects at a vigil in New York University the following day. An angry group of NYU students didn’t appreciate her presence, and a student named Leen was filmed confronting Chelsea over remarks the children’s book author had made about Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar. “This right here is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words that you put out into the world. And I want you to know that and I want you to feel that deeply – 49 people died because of the rhetoric you put out there,” the student told Chelsea, pointing at her, which drew finger snaps from an unseen crowd.
Chelsea, who is pregnant with her and Marc Mezvinsky’s third child, tried to apologize before the student delivered her argument. “I’m so sorry that you feel that way. Certainly, it was never my intention. I do believe words matter. I believe we have to show solidarity,” she said, and repeated a similar apology — “I’m so sorry that you feel that way” — a second time. This vexed another student behind the camera, who yelled, “What does that mean?”
The confrontation happened after Chelsea sent a cautionary tweet to Ilhan, a Democrat congresswoman from Minnesota, after she accused the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) of paying congress members to support Israel. The AIPAC is a nonprofit lobbying group, so making political contributions would be illegal. “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel,” newspaper editor Batya Ungar-Sargon tweeted in February, and Ilhan replied in a now-deleted tweet, “AIPAC!” After the exchange, Chelsea tweeted to the newspaper editor, “Co-signed as an American. We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.” The freshman congresswoman apologized for her remarks afterwards, stating that she’s “grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues.”
Twitter users are now defending Chelsea, arguing that her tweet against “anti-Semitism” is a far cry from Islamophobic rhetoric. “This is absolute horsesh*t. chelsea clinton calling out ilhan omar’s anti-semitism is not islamophobia and blaming her for christchurch is completely uncalled for. i’m muslim and i thought omar crossed the line into anti-semitism…muslims need allies. this video ain’t it, chief,” Washington Examiner writer Siraj Hashmi tweeted on March 15. Another person had her own take, writing, “It’s not pewdiepie’s fault, it’s not chelsea clinton’s fault, it’s not the gun’s fault, it’s the fault of a disgusting white supremacist who wanted to divide people and we’re letting him. love each other.” A third person chimed in, tweeting, “Hey, so, gonna go out on a limb here and say that Chelsea Clinton isn’t one bit responsible for the terrorist attack in New Zealand, and it’s incredibly disturbing to see even one person harass her in public and make such a ridiculous claim.” Others have pointed out that Chelsea is still considered a private citizen, despite her parents’ vocations: “People seem to forget this all the time, but Chelsea Clinton is not an elected official, she is a private citizen. You’re not ‘speaking truth to power’ or really accomplishing much of anything when you try to make her accountable for societal ills.”
A month prior to attending the vigil, Chelsea had also defended Ilhan when Mike Pence tweeted that the congresswoman’s apology “was inadequate.” Chelsea replied, “Mr. Vice President- Congresswoman @IlhanMN apologized. She has moved on to highlighting challenges facing McDonald’s workers. President Trump, a far more powerful person in Washington, has never apologized for his embrace of white nationalism & anti-Semitic & Islamophobic hate.”
The student who approached Chelsea has tweeted that she received “death threats” over their viral video, but did not back down from her stance. “The CAUCASITY that chelsea clinton has showing up to a vigil for the 49 muslims massacred in an islamophobic hate crime after STOKING ISLAMOPHOBIA AND RACISM surrounding ilhan omar…. f**ing ridiculous,” she tweeted on March 15.
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