Rep. Omar: Did she diminish 9/11?
Rep. Ilhan Omar has outdone herself, said the New York Post in an editorial. In a speech last month to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the freshman Democratic congresswoman downplayed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to complain about how she and her fellow Muslims have become “second-class citizen[s].” After “some people did something” on 9/11, Omar said, “all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.” Hard to believe, but a member of Congress actually brushed off the murder of 3,000 innocents by Islamic extremists as some people doing something. Omar has already made headlines for trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes, such as implying that Jewish lobbyists are buying U.S. support for Israel. Her cavalier words about one of America’s darkest days is an appalling new low.
By seizing on one phrase in a 20-minute speech, “Omar’s detractors misrepresent her words and intentions,” said Moustafa Bayoumi in The Guardian (U.K.). Omar was trying to explain how the horrific actions of a few Muslims “have distressingly enabled the threat to the civil rights of so many,” such as President Trump’s ban on visitors and immigrants from five Muslim-majority countries. The backlash has only proven how right she was. The conservative New York Post ran a picture of the burning World Trade Center towers on the front page, “as if Omar herself is responsible for those deaths.” Trump went even further, tweeting a video mashing up Omar’s words with footage of the attacks, said Greg Sargent in The Washington Post. Omar soon was inundated with death threats. Trump and his allies’ calculated attacks on Omar “absolutely are designed to incite hatred of Muslims.”
Some of the criticism of Omar has been “over the top,” said David French in NationalReview.com, but Democrats shouldn’t use her Muslim faith to shield her from criticism. Omar is an outspoken public figure, and “it is not racist—nor is it incitement—to call her to account” for her insensitive dismissal of 9/11. Democrats offering “full-throated” defenses of Omar are playing right into Trump’s hands, said David Frum in TheAtlantic.com. The president wants to make this “ultraprogressive” Minnesota congresswoman the face of their party in 2020. It’s very likely she’ll continue to make outlandish criticisms of Israel and America. “It cannot be pleasant for Omar’s colleagues to have to wonder and worry what that next remark will be.” ■