“THIS COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED on the ideas of justice, of liberty, of the pursuit of happiness. But these core beliefs are under threat. Each and every day. We are under threat by an administration that would rather cage children than pass comprehensive immigration reform”—Ilhan Omar
Prior to the current flap over 9/11, critics in the recent past have repeatedly labeled Ms. Omar’s criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. She argued that the label is being used in bad faith to shut down debate. Her sentence that garnered the most attention at an early point was, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
I’ve broached that same subject in various ways in the near past, having tired of Donald Trump’s all-out allegiance to Israel—financially, militarily, socially, politically—in large part at the expense of Palestine. He most recently proclaimed that the Golan Heights belonged to Israel (and the U.S. published a map showing that to be so); he has cut out all humanitarian aid to Palestine, moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, etc. He continues an all-out effort to capture the American Jewish vote in the next election. After being criticized at one point, Omar questioned why it was acceptable for her to speak critically about the political influence of the National Rifle Association, fossil fuel industries and “big pharma,” but not the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Indeed. I find her questions rather reasonable for a Muslim American. It’s not anti-semitic. It’s a call for equality and a protest against Donald Trump’s stereotyping of Muslims by such things as his 2017 travel ban restricting certain nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and North Korea from obtaining entry visas. The first five countries are basically Muslim—and Somalia, of course, is Omar’s home country.
So Donald already smelled blood in the water when Twitter discovered an excerpt of a speech Omar delivered last month at a Council on American–Islamic Relations banquet. Here were her controversial words: “For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen. Frankly, I’m tired of it. And every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”
Her message was clear: don’t hold the many responsible for the actions of the few. All Muslims are not terrorists. However, she hit a raw nerve with some when alluding 9/11 as an example. Her point, of course, was not that 9/11 was a trivial event, but that the broader Muslim community was targeted as a result.
Her remarks about Islamophobia came at an event held by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a civil liberties group—a week after the white supremacist shooting that left 50 Muslim worshippers dead at two mosques in New Zealand.
Near as I can ascertain, Donald’s initial response to Omar’s comment was his tweet: “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!,” accompanied by video of the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers, a video ended with the word “SEPTEMBER 11 2001 WE REMEMBER”. When later asked, during one of his endless pep rallies, if he regretted his response. He said hell no, she absolutely deserved it. In an interview, he added: "She's been very disrespectful to this country. She's been very disrespectful, frankly, to Israel. She is somebody who doesn't really understand real life, what it's all about. It's unfortunate. She's got a way about her that's very very bad I think for our country. She's extremely unpatriotic and extremely disrespectful to our country,” And on his disparagement has continued.
Omar and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are holding him responsible for an alleged increase in death threats toward the Congresswoman, an aspect Donald apparently has chosen to ignore. Omar commented, “Violent crimes and other acts of hate by right-wing extremists and white nationalists are on the rise in this country and around the world,” Omar said. “We can no longer ignore that they are being encouraged by the occupant of the highest office in the land.”
HOW ABOUT SOME PAST ATTITUDE of pertinence to 9/11 by Donald Trump. His moral outrage as he uses 9/11 as a political weapon is nothing like his insensitive boasting at the time of the terrorist attack. He gloated that his building at 40 Wall Street had become the tallest in New York City with the collapse of the Twin Towers. Not only insensitive, but also an outright lie. It was all about Donald. Before the bodies had been cleared or identified, he was on television gloating, “Well my building at 40 Wall Street now the tallest building in America.”
And Donald also got off the lie that “thousands of” Muslims in New Jersey,
where there is a “heavy Arab population,” were dancing in the streets, partying and celebrating the terrorist attack and destruction of the Twin Towers. Over all he’d been pretty insensitive on it all—except when occasionally using it as a political weapon in allying himself with it in a self-aggrandizing manner. Like the time he inexplicably made a false boast that he helped pay people to clear rubble at the site and search for survivors.
Some quotes from Trump critics recently:
CHER (the same age, 72, as Donald but aging better) called him an “ignorant thug with a lizard brain” who “guarantees his survival above all else.” She said Trump is “playing butcher your enemies” and creating “constant mayhem.” She concluded, “If Dems are waiting for him to have an epiphany, good fkng luck.”
BERNIE SANDERS—“Ilhan Omar is a leader with strength and courage. She won't back down to Trump's racism and hate, and neither will we. The disgusting and dangerous attacks against her must end.”
ELIZABETH WARREN on Trump's tweet about Omar: "Donald Trump is trying to incite violence and to divide us, and every political leader should speak out against this. The Republican leadership in Congress cannot take a pass on this."
BETO O'ROURKE called Trump’s tweet “an incitement to violence against Congresswoman Omar, against our fellow Americans who happen to be Muslim.”
ILHAN OMAR—I did not run for Congress to be silent. I ran because I believed it was time to restore moral clarity and courage to Congress. To fight and to defend our Democracy,” Omar tweeted. “No one person—no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious—can threaten my unwavering love for America. I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans.”