Ilhan Omar: Trump's plan is to turn 'American against American to benefit the wealthy elite'

Rep. Ilhan Omar.
(Image credit: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) knows exactly why President Trump makes racist statements, as it's a move that's been in the political playbook throughout U.S. history, she wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Thursday night.

Racist language "has been used to turn American against American in order to benefit the wealthy elite," Omar said. "Every time Mr. Trump attacks refugees is a time that could be spent discussing the president's unwillingness to raise the federal minimum wage for up to 33 million Americans. Every racist attack on four members of Congress is a moment he doesn't have to address why his choice for labor secretary has spent his career defending Wall Street banks and Walmart at the expense of workers. When he is launching attacks on the free press, he isn't talking about why his Environmental Protection Agency just refused to ban a pesticide linked to brain damage in children."

For two weeks, Trump has been steadily attacking Omar and three other House Democrats — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) — telling them they don't love the United States and need to go back to their home countries. This is a distraction, because "if working Americans are too busy fighting with one another, we will never address the very real and deep problems our country faces — from climate change to soaring inequality to lack of quality affordable health care," Omar said.

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Americans must push back against the administration's policies, Omar said, because it's "not enough to condemn Mr. Trump's racism." She ended her op-ed with a warning. "Right-wing nationalism in Hungary, Russia, France, Britain, and elsewhere is on the march in ways not seen in decades," Omar said. "America has been a beacon of democratic ideals for the world. If we succumb to the fever of right-wing nationalism, it will have consequences far beyond our borders." Read the entire op-ed at The New York Times.

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