Juan Williams: McCarthy's inaction is a disgrace

Somewhere, former Congressman Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingJuan Williams: McCarthy's inaction is a disgrace Omar allies dig in on calls for Boebert punishment Pressure grows to remove Boebert from committees MORE must be saying: “If only I had waited two years to air my views on white supremacy …"

The Iowa Republican’s sin was telling a New York Times reporter that he did not see a problem with terms like “white supremacist” and “white nationalist."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse Republicans bash Democrats' China competition bill Press: Newt says lock 'em up – for doing their job!  The Hill's Morning Report - Biden, NATO eye 'all scenarios' with Russia MORE (R-Calif.) aptly described King’s indifference to such racism as “beneath the dignity of the party of Lincoln and the United States of America.” McCarthy stripped King of his House committee assignments in January 2019.

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Well, here’s a political puzzle for you.

How do you explain McCarthy now giving Rep. Lauren BoebertLauren BoebertMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House Boebert asked Jewish visitors to Capitol if they were doing 'reconnaissance': report GOP Reps. Greene, Clyde accrue nearly 0K in combined mask fines MORE (R-Colo.) a free pass for her anti-Muslim bigotry?

In the past month, video has emerged of Boebert trashing Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOver 80 lawmakers urge Biden to release memo outlining his authority on student debt cancellation Senate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Overnight Defense & National Security — DOD watchdog to review extremism screening MORE (D-Minn.) as a terrorist. She also described the Muslim member of Congress at an event as a member of the “Jihad squad.”

What we have here is Boebert openly branding an elected member of Congress as a threat to the country, based only on that member’s religion.

Arguably her words are worse than King’s. Boebert’s libel is intended to revive voters’ lingering resentments over the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and raise political donations from bigots who hate Muslims.

Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden announces green buildings initiative Tlaib blasts Biden judicial nominee whose firm sued environmental lawyer House Democrats inquire about possible census undercount in Detroit, other communities MORE (D- Mich.) broke into tears when she said Boebert’s words could provoke “violence on Muslims all across our country.”

Tlaib said she “should not have to beg and urge Republicans to do what’s right here” by punishing Boebert.

“They have Muslims in their communities,” she added.

McCarthy, however, refused to take away Boebert’s committee assignments.

The mystery of McCarthy’s inaction after Boebert’s slander was quickly solved when she won endorsement for reelection from former President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Korea conducts potential 6th missile test in a month Kemp leading Perdue in Georgia gubernatorial primary: poll US ranked 27th least corrupt country in the world MORE.

Trump’s early support for Boebert was apparently prompted by passage of a House bill condemning anti-Muslim bigotry. The bill, passed by the Democratic majority, was designed to shame Boebert in the face of McCarthy’s refusal to take away her committee assignments.

“She is a fearless leader, a defender of the America First Agenda, and a fighter against the Loser RINOs and Radical Democrats,” Trump said.

Boebert thanked Trump last week in a tweet that ended with a request that people following her join her campaign by “chipping in $20.22.”

Earlier this year, McCarthy showed the same deference to other Trump acolytes. He refused to discipline Rep. Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneGOP efforts to downplay danger of Capitol riot increase The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's meeting with Trump 'soon' in Florida MORE (R-Ga.) for blaming California wildfires on a plot by Jewish bankers involving space lasers and endorsing the idea of executing Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Republicans bash Democrats' China competition bill Man seen wearing 'Camp Auschwitz' sweatshirt on Jan. 6 pleads guilty to trespassing Democrats should ignore Senators Manchin and Sinema MORE (D-Calif.).

It fell to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to remove Greene from her committee posts.

McCarthy also left it up to Democrats to censure Rep. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarJan. 6 committee subpoenas leaders of 'America First' movement Lawmakers coming under increased threats — sometimes from one another McCarthy says he'll strip Dems of committee slots if GOP wins House MORE (R-Ariz.) after he circulated a violent animated video depicting him murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezNew Mexico Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case Hispanics sour on Biden and Democrats' agenda as midterms loom MORE (D-N.Y.).

McCarthy’s only response has been to threaten to retaliate against Democrats for shaming his members. He said he will strip committee assignments from outspoken, progressive Democrats like Omar if the Republicans win majority control of the House in 2022.

With McCarthy waving a Trump flag, Republicans in the House now have a free pass to imitate Trump-style violent, racially polarizing rhetoric.

The guiding political fact here is McCarthy’s desire to become Speaker if Republicans win the majority in 2022.

Despite his current position, McCarthy’s path to the Speakership is far from certain.

In 2015, he dropped out of a race to become Speaker due to opposition from the Trumpian, far-right Freedom Caucus.

And last month, Greene said McCarthy “doesn’t have the full support [of the GOP conference] to be Speaker.”

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After the Jan. 6 attack by Trump supporters on the Capitol, McCarthy was clear in saying Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.” He also criticized Trump for ignoring pleas to stop the violence.

Then he changed course, traveling to Mar-a-Lago to make up with Trump.

That humiliation came after 139 House Republicans voted against certifying the 2020 election results — as did eight Republican senators.

An Economist/YouGov poll last week found that 75 percent of Republicans still believe that Biden “did not legitimately win the election.”

Allow me to end with a hypothetical:

What if, as suspected, the Jan. 6 commission finds evidence that House Republicans helped to plan, coordinate and even instigate the violence at the Capitol?

Given his recent history, McCarthy is likely to do nothing. At that point, Pelosi will be forced to do something. Her options will include expulsion.

If Congressional Republicans will no longer hold their own members to any standard of public integrity, it falls to Congress and voters to hold them accountable.

Then will McCarthy threaten, using House Republicans’ favorite trick of “whataboutism,” to begin expelling outspoken Democratic members such as Ocasio-Cortez — members who come from congressional districts comprised of a majority voters of color?

Seeing an overwhelmingly white, male House Republican caucus go after racial and religious minorities will be a new low.

McCarthy needs to take the high road now by punishing bigotry in his own ranks.

Juan Williams is an author and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.