JAW, JAW: Congressman Jamaal Bowman addressing the Irish 40 Under 40 celebration in New York in February 20223

Jamaal Bowman - A Teachable Moment for American Politics

When Congressman Jamaal Bowman addressed the Irish Echo 40 Under 40 in New York in February 2023, he urged the young ambassadors gathered to agree a contract with him: they would continue to use their undoubted talents to build stronger communities, he would battle on Capitol Hill for a better America.

It was a moment right out of a schoolroom text book on civics with its simple, straightforward emphasis on the shared responsibility which lies at the very core of any successful democracy. And it's a promise on which he has delivered time out of number since being dispatched to Washington in January 2021. 

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And that's hardly surprising because former teacher Bowman has championed ideals which are taught in every American classroom - endeavor and excellence for sure, but also equality and equity. 

Those values have been reflected in his everyday work: for better educational outcomes, for a fair wage for a fair day's pay, for labor rights and for access to affordable housing.

But they are also to be seen in his unwavering stance in support of the Irish peace process and in opposition to British attempts to play fast and loose with the Good Friday Agreement - a not inconsequential matter to the many Irish in Congressman Bowman's 16th Congressional district. Additionally, of course, he has been an ally of the key Irish networks in his area, not least the Aisling Irish Center and the Emerald Isle Immigration Center.

As an African American, Congressman Bowman's voice is amplified among a community steeped in civil rights' battles when he speaks up in support of human rights in Northern Ireland — thus bringing additional support in Congress for the case of those fighting for truth and justice from London. 

All too often in D.C., politicians live by the old dictum, "do as a I say, not as I do." That's not Congressman Bowman's way. He took his belief in jaw, jaw rather than war, war seriously and became an early voice for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza War. For that stance, and not because of any fault in his record, Congressman Bowman is being "punished" by colleagues who are running a candidate against him in the forthcoming Democratic primary.

That's unfortunate for the Irish of the Bronx and Westchester County because Congressman Bowman has been as strong an advocate for them as his predecessor, and legendary friend of Ireland, Eliot Engel. A loss for him would mean the loss of a supportive advocate for the Northern Irish peace process. 

From the cradle, never mind the classroom, the Irish are taught the dangers of in-fighting. Voters in the 16th Congressional District have a chance to teach a lesson to the Democratic Party about the futility of internecine squabbling in the forthcoming primary by coming out in support of Congressman Bowman.