U.S. — Omar an unwitting pawn in Trump’s 2020 campaign strategy — By Mohamed Hamaludin

There were four words: “some people did something.”

They have launched a furious controversy that pits the President of the United States against a congressional newcomer in yet another example of the divisiveness that characterizes today’s America.

Rep Ilhan Omar

The words were spoken by one of two Muslim women elected to the House of Representatives last November, while she addressed a civil rights gathering organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on March 23. It was a 20-minute speech.

“For far too long, we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it,” Omar said. “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. So you can’t just say that today someone is looking at me strange and that I am trying to make myself look pleasant. You have to say that, ‘This person is looking at me strange. I am not comfortable with it, and I am going to talk to them and ask them why.’ Because that is the right you have.”   

The comment on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed 2,753 people in the World Trade Center, 184 at the Pentagon and 40 in a Pennsylvania field was hurtfully flippant and drew justifiable criticism. But it took two weeks to make the news. The Huffington Post’s Rowaida Abdelaziz reported that a Muslim prayer leader in Australia posted a clip from Omar’s speech on April 8 which was shared by Texas Republican Rep. Dan Creshaw. “Fox & Friends” picked it up, with co-host Brian Kilmeade wondering whether Omar “was American first.” The New York Post put on its cover a photo of the World Trade Center in flames under a banner headline: REP. ILHAN OMAR: 9/11 WAS ‘SOMETHING SOME PEOPLE DID SOMETHING’. Superimposed on the photo in large characters are the words: “Here’s your something”, followed by: “2,977 people dead by terrorism”. President Donald Trump tweeted a video of the World Trade Center towers burning, with Omar’s photo between them, adding: WE WILL NEVER FORGET!

Trump’s video was certain to inflame some people and it did. “Since the president’s tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life – many directly referencing or replying to the president’s video. This is endangering lives. It has to stop,” Omar stated. She had already faced death threats since entering Congress less than four months ago.

Slate reported that Patrick Carlineo, 55, of Addison, N.Y., was charged with threatening to “put a bullet in her f..king skull” in a March 21 phone call to Omar’s office. He told authorities “that he was a patriot, that he loves the President, and that he hates radical Muslims in our government. “In mid-March, a woman made a bomb threat to a Los Angeles hotel where Omar was scheduled to speak, The Blast reported. The threats have now become so serious that Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she asked the House Sergeant-at-Arms to look into security for the congresswoman.

Politico reported that more than 150 progressive leaders and groups have come out in support of Omar. And Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Karen Bass, D-Calif., said the “outrage” being generated against Omar “further puts her life in danger,” The Associated Press reported.

There is more to this intense hatred than just the four controversial words. It feeds on the slander that all Muslims are potential terrorists and can anyhow never be loyal Americans. Omar answered this herself: “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.”

The main point which Omar made in her March 23 speech, about the relentless Islamophobia which confronts Muslim Americans daily, along with the fact that she spoke  just a week after a white racist massacred 50 Muslims in New Zealand on March 15, has gone mostly unmentioned.

Alissa Torres, whose husband was killed in the World Trade Center when she was seven and a half months pregnant, put the dispute in context in an opinion piece in The Guardian, saying, among other things, “I am outraged that there is more outrage directed against Omar than there is against the undermining of national security systems that were put in place after 9/11. Whole federal departments have been left leaderless or under inferior care. One day, some people will do something to us and they will succeed, because those in charge failed in their duties to protect us, distracted as they were by trumped-up battles with make-believe enemies.”

But the president, whose parents and wife came as immigrants and whose reaction after the destruction of the World Trade Center was that he now owned the tallest building in Manhattan and took rebuilding loans meant for small businesses, according to The Guardian, is clearly using his 2016 playbook and making immigration and Islamophobia the issues that he expects will earn him a second term as president.

If American voters let him.

—-

Mohamed Hamaludin is a Guyana-born journalist who  worked for several years at The Chronicle in the 1970s and on publications in the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands before emigrating to the United States in 1984 where he worked at The Miami Times, the Miami Herald and the South Florida Times.  Though now retired, he writes a commentary every week or two for The South Florida Times (sfltimes.com) in which the above column first appeared. He may be reached at hamal1942@gmail.com.

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MORE FROM WIKIPEDIA

Ilhan Abdullahi Omar (born October 4, 1981) is a Somali-American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district since 2019. The district includes all of Minneapolis and some of its suburbs.

Omar was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016 on the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party line. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, marking a number of historic electoral firsts: the first Somali-American, the first naturalized citizen from Africa, the first non-white woman from Minnesota, and one of the first two Muslim women, along with Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, to serve in Congress.[1][2][3]

A member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Omar has advocated for a living wageaffordable housing and healthcarestudent loan debt forgiveness, the protection of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She has strongly opposed the immigration policies of the Trump administration, including the Trump travel ban. A frequent critic of Israel, Omar has denounced its settlement policy and military campaigns in the occupied Palestinian territories, and what she describes as the influence of pro-Israel lobbies such as AIPAC.

READ MORE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilhan_Omar

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Comments

  • sirenagx  On April 20, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    “”some people did something” Its her choice of words that made her a pawn for Trump campaign & made room for misunderstanding what she may have wanted to say.. These words after mentioning 9/11 is disturbing to most Americans. “when any one does anything” might have sounded better Yes there are Muslim biases but the picture is not as bleak as she may perceive for .
    those living in US. She came here & was elected to the Congress, which
    should say something other than her just feeling as a second class citizen. As long as the radicals threaten US, there will be suspicions rightly or wrongfully of Muslim by some. There is a lot of blame to go around. We need a balanced debate in issues like this. Simply saying

  • wally n  On April 21, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    The idea that she can expect people [non muslims] not to be offended, highlights the freedom that exists in America. I am sure there are other groups, living in America, hate the country, but would never leave, only because they are allowed to voice their displeasure. If that is not freedom, what is? After being in Canada for so long, I have dumped my “Liberals” but up to today, I am still grateful that I was accepted.

  • Clyde Duncan  On April 22, 2019 at 12:38 am

    The Observer view on the Mueller Report:
    Trump is a Disgrace NOT Welcome in Britain

    Observer editorial | The Guardian UK

    The president has been shown to be the biggest threat to USA governance since Watergate. Britain must not honour this dishonourable man with a state visit

    The prospect of Donald Trump making a state visit to Britain in June is stomach-churning. The corruption investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose damning report was published last week, provided ample evidence of what we already know: Trump is unfit to hold the office of president of the United States

    By his words and actions over two wretched, destructive years in power, he has proved beyond doubt he is no friend of Britain.

    The proposal that the British state should extend to this unworthy man its highest honours, including an address to parliament, and a banquet and carriage ride down the Mall with the Queen, is misjudged. It will do nothing to revive the “special relationship”, already torn apart by Trump’s reactionary policies on climate change, migration, race, multilateralism, Yemen, nuclear arms, civil liberties and other issues. What it will do is give an undeserved boost to a wounded charlatan.

    This scandal looks certain to escalate, not fade. Barr’s many redactions will not be allowed to stand.

    If Americans are content to allow a habitual liar who has presided over systemic illegality, numerous ill-concealed attempts to obstruct justice and a foul-mouthed culture of venality and vendettas to continue to lead their country, that is a matter for them. But the British people cannot be expected to collude or condone such misbehaviour. And what’s to be gained? A fantasy post-Brexit trade deal?

    Trump’s word, evidently, cannot be trusted.

    Trump and his supporters are hoping the Mueller fallout will quickly dissipate. Sycophantic attorney-general William Barr’s belated release of the report the day before Easter, like his earlier, misleading contents “summary”, was a dishonourable attempt at damage limitation. Yet this scandal looks certain to escalate, not fade.

    Barr’s many redactions, particularly concerning the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russian election meddling and the WikiLeaks connection, will not be allowed to stand. Mueller refers to 14 ongoing, related criminal investigations. Separate federal probes continue in New York.

    The onus now falls on Congress to take the vast amount of information gathered by Mueller and move the process to a conclusion. Leading Democrats have signalled their intention to do so. Additional testimony will be sought from both Mueller and Barr. Some, like the presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, are pushing for impeachment. Others, like the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, want to further weaken Trump by besieging him with endless, enervating inquiries.

    Such overtly political calculations are unhelpful. So, too, is criticism of Mueller himself. He performed an intensely difficult task with dignity and discretion. There is no evidence that Trump’s attempts to bully him, and threats to sack him, influenced his findings.

    According to his report, he ultimately felt unable to bring criminal charges because that would breach justice department rules disallowing prosecution of a sitting president. Amid so much impropriety, this was the properly legal course.

    But Mueller has nevertheless lit the fuse to a very large bomb located under Trump’s Oval Office desk. It seems clear that, but for that rule on prosecutions and the refusal of top aides to carry out his illegal orders, Trump would already be in the dock.

    By identifying 11 instances of possible obstruction of justice, Mueller has effectively laid out a road map, and grounds for future indictments, that Congress – Democrats and Republicans – has a duty to pursue.

    What has been alleged, and to some degree proved, is not, as Trump’s defenders claim, the product of partisan attempts to destroy him. It concerns grave wrongdoing at the heart of the presidency.

    It amounts to the biggest crisis in US governance since Watergate. At stake is Americans’ trust in their democracy and the effectiveness of their vaunted constitutional doctrines.

    Also in the balance is America’s standing in the world. Until the door shuts on Trumpgate – and the sooner the better – Trump will remain an international liability. He is not welcome here.

  • Clyde Duncan  On April 22, 2019 at 7:22 am

    Bhaskar Sunkara wrote: Impeachment is the Wrong Way To Go ….

    Whether we like it or not Trump has a democratic mandate. Given the nature of the electoral college and our representative system, HE HAS BEEN ABLE TO RULE WITH ONLY MINORITY SUPPORT.

    But Trump is the legitimate president by rules of the game that liberals have largely accepted. The only way to repudiate his right-wing populism is at the ballot box, decisively showing what polls indicate — that Americans want real, progressive solutions to their problems.

    Before we go down this impeachment path, we might want to look at what happened in Italy throughout the 2000s. A little smarter, maybe, but Silvio Berlusconi is the closest international comparison that we have for Trump.

    Berlusconi was brash, corrupt, racist, and right-wing. But the coalition against him ended up being dominated not by popular forces, but by lawyers and journalists.

    They defended the institutional values of the Italian republic, expressed disgust at Berlusconi’s personal behavior, and tried to oust him through the courts. What they didn’t do is compellingly attack him on issues that resonated with voters.

    In other words, the way to defeat a right-wing political coalition is through left-wing politics, NOT theater.

    Presidents should not be immune from prosecution. But it’s even more important to make sure that the gross violations – many of them legal – of people’s moral rights to housing, health care, employment, and security are ended.

    In other words, talking more about the powerful interests opposing policies that would benefit the working class, and less about shadowy foreign menaces, on whom it is all too easy to blame our ills.

  • kamtanblog  On April 24, 2019 at 3:08 am

    Xenophobic trash news …
    MSM feeding frenzies ?

    This is a shining example of “abuse” of the freedom of speech in the free world.
    Sometimes it is wise to remain silent rather than put petrol on the fire.
    The unspoken word not mistaken as agreeing.

    Muslims once ruled the world in their barbaristic religious belief followed by Christians with a similar one. Now the same religious xenophobic trash is used by politicians to win friends and influences their followers.
    Has history not thought us that only fools repeat the mistakes of past…best forgiven not forgotten.
    Had this politician voiced her opinion in Saudi or Arab state am sure her trial conviction and execution would be imminent.
    You thief in most Arab states your hand is chopped off.
    You cheat in a relationship you are stoned to death.
    Religion the opium of the masses.
    It has divided our world rather than United it.
    Most wars are fought by religious fagots.

    RIP

    Kamtan

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