Analysis & Opinions - The Atlantic

Rashida Tlaib's Inflammatory Language

| Nov. 08, 2023

By amplifying a loaded slogan, the Michigan representative isn't helping anyone’s cause.

I met Rashida Tlaib in 2009, before she was elected to Congress, when she was a young Palestinian American newly serving in the Michigan House of Representatives. I was the highest-ranking Arab American woman in the Obama administration and was receiving a key to the city of Dearborn, known as the heart of Arab America. She may not remember me from that day, but I remember her. She was a mesmerizing presence: attentive, sociable, and seemingly fearless. 

Nearly a decade later, Tlaib won a U.S. House seat and became one-quarter of the outspokenly progressive “Squad.” Her ascent was an inspiration to many women of Muslim and Arab heritage—including me, a Lebanese American Christian who's raising her children in their father's faith, Judaism—because so few of us play any visible role in American politics. She was also noteworthy as a prominent advocate for Palestinians, who have suffered terribly for their statelessness.

But Tlaib is not helping anyone's cause by amplifying activist rhetoric that, to many ears, casually deploys the language of annihilation....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Kayyem, Juliette.“Rashida Tlaib's Inflammatory Language.” The Atlantic, November 8, 2023.

The Author

Juliette Kayyem Headshot