Carolyn Maloney was elected to Congress in 1992-- and she's running again to represent a district that has drastically changed from the old Upper East Side "Silk Stocking" district that first elected her. It still has more billionaires per square foot than anyplace else in the world but, it's a working class district now, that includes Astoria, Long Island City and Sunnyside in Queens, Greenpoint and part of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, the Lower East Side, Alphabet City, the East Village, Union Square Koreatown, Murray Hill and Kipps Bay in Manhattan, as well as the Theater District, Trump Tower, Yorkville and the Upper East Side.
A member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus-- with a disappointing "B" lifetime crucial vote score-- she's rated the 92nd "most progressive" Democrat in Congress, not in the same ballpark as NY colleagues AOC, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, Jerry Nadler, Nydia Valazquez, Adriano Espaillat, Ritchie Torres or Yvette Clarke-- nor even a congressional status quo icon like Hakeem Jeffries. But what's worst about Maloney isn't her voting record per se, but her willingness to take immense sums of money from special interests and then use her power base as a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee and as chair of the Oversight Committee to benefit those same special interests. Maloney has scooped up millions in donations from Wall Street and big banks, and has shown more support for Amazon and gentrification than the small businesses in this diverse district that desperately need help. She's pro-Wall Street and favors the banksters and crooked dealers she's supposed to be helping to regulate.
This cycle she's being challenged by community organizer and progressive activist Rana Abdelhamid, who wasn't even born when Maloney first entered Congress. I asked her to introduce herself to us with a guest post about her own experiences around 9/11 since it had such a big impact on the immigrant communities in NY-12. After you read it, if you would like to help her replace Maloney in Congress, please consider contributing to her campaign here.
Congress Should’ve Ended The War In Afghanistan. We Need Representatives Who Won’t Start The Next One
-by Rana Abdelhamid
For many Americans, 9/11 was the day that everything changed. For me, it was not only the day that my city was hit by a devastating attack, it was the day my identity transformed into a source of shame. I was just eight years old when the towers fell, and the grief and uncertainty I felt as a New Yorker was compounded by the added trauma my community suffered. Fathers and brothers in my neighborhood were harassed by the police. Our mosques and civic centers were surveilled. And when I was sixteen, I was attacked by a stranger on the street when a man tried to rip off my hijab.
As my community and Muslim communities across the country came under siege at home, Congress issued a blank check for the military to go to war abroad. The authorization of force cited “self-defense,” but people in power offered changing rationales. What started as a war on terror soon became a war of regime change. Later, the war became an attempt at creating an entirely new national government, military included. 20 years later, after thousands of lives have been lost and trillions of dollars spent, the war is finally over. But whose lives are better for it?
It’s not clear that Americans are any safer now than we were before decades of military occupation. The Taliban has only escalated their human rights abuses and cemented their power over Afghan civil society. Most frustrating, the architects of the war in Afghanistan have never been called to account. Afghanistan isn’t the first war that the United States has lost at profound cost, but it should be the last.
To avoid making the same mistake in the future, we need to understand how the war in Afghanistan was sold. After the immediate horror and anger that 9/11 inspired, Congressional war hawks leveraged the suffering of Afghan women under Taliban rule to make their case. I’ll never forget seeing my own Congresswoman, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, take to the House floor dressed in a burqa to cry crocodile tears about the oppression of Muslim women while praising President Bush for dropping “food as well as bombs” on Afghanistan. With this spectacle, she conscripted all Muslim women into her case for war-- treating us all as either terrorists ourselves, or oppressed daughters and wives in need of saving.
Now that the military has withdrawn from Afghanistan, the U.S. has left behind a power vacuum that the Taliban was quick to fill. The same women Congress used to justify the war-- women who have survived in a conflict zone, lost loved ones to violence, lived in fear of drones and soldiers-- are the ones whose lives remain at greatest risk. The politicians who condemned them to war have suffered none of that risk. In fact, politicians like Carolyn Maloney who sold us the war have gained even greater seniority as the conflict dragged on.
We must hold our representatives and our country accountable for the crisis we helped create. After destabilizing Afghanistan for a generation, we have a moral duty to welcome as many Afghan refugees as possible. We must immediately expedite and increase the processing capacity for Afghan refugee resettlement, and make family reunification a major priority.
But welcoming refugees isn’t enough: we need a Congress that commits to not creating more. We need foreign policy rooted in peace and diplomacy, not endless wars and bottomless Pentagon budgets. Americans are fed up with decades of mass death, waste, and excuses. After years of organizing and resistance, progressive champions and peacemakers are taking charge in Congress. I’m committed to lending my voice to their cause.