‘Everyone else’s truth is allowed, but my truth can never be…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) A new crisis over statements by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that downplayed the 9/11 terrorist attacks drew condemnation from conservative media on Wednesday, as even Democrats expressed increasing concerns over having to defend her rhetoric.
The New York Post ran a front page story criticizing Omar—a Muslim refugee originally from Somalia—for remarks she made last month while speaking at a fundraiser for the Council of American-Islamic Relations. The comments only recently surfaced on social media.
“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,” Omar said.
First Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as “some people who did something”.
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) April 9, 2019
In the speech, Omar also reportedly called on Muslims to “make people uncomfortable” through their activism.
Responding to the controversy, “Fox and Friends” host Brian Kilmeade observed Wednesday, “You have to wonder if she’s an American first.”
‘As American As Everyone Else…’
But during her first visit to “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Wednesday night, Omar spent much of the time throwing herself a pity party while deflecting blame for the inflammatory rhetoric.
She said that the only reason she faced criticism for her comments, including recent bipartisan rebukes of anti-Semitic statements, was the fact that she, herself, is a victim of bigotry.
“If you think about, you know, historically, where our nation is at right now, there are many members of our community that, their identities are a lightning rod—they’ve become—they’re being used as a political football,” she said.
“We are talking about immigrants, we are talking about refugees, women of color—people of color—minorities … Muslims specifically,” Omar continued. “And I just happen to embody all of those identities—and so it’s easy for this to be kind of self-explanatory.”
Departing from his usual flippancy, host Stephen Colbert appeared somber and cautious to avoid broaching the 9/11 comments directly, but he pressed Omar on whether she was being used as a “cudgel” by political opponents.
Omar responded—without further clarification of her 9/11 comments—that her loyalty was, first and foremost, to the United States.
“I took an oath,” she said. “I took an oath to uphold the Constitution. I am as American as everyone else is.”
Dual-Loyalties and Double-Standards
Omar complained to Colbert about the “double-standard” she faced since “Fox and Friends” was allowed to question her loyalties with impunity while she herself was called out for mere “insinuations” that downplayed the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks and implied that Jewish groups had dual loyalties.
“This kind of double-standard really is quite offensive and is very much embedded in a lot of our culture these days where you will have people come after minorities for things that they say—they might have insinuated,” Omar said.
“But no one goes after people like the folks on ‘Fox and Friends’ that actually say those words,” she added. “It’s not about insinuation, right—they actually said that I might not be an American, my loyalties might not be to this country—but I get called out, they don’t. They get to keep their show.”
It is unclear that Omar has actually faced any consequences yet for her bombastic statements. Although Congress passed a resolution in early March that condemned all forms of hate, the original version, which specifically condemned Omar’s anti-Semitism, was watered down substantially under pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus.
However, Jewish leaders in Omar’s Minneapolis district said they had met with her previously to express concerns and were now considering putting forth a primary challenger for her 2020 race.
Omar said she didn’t realize the anti-Semitic stereotypes and rhetoric rooted in hate and prejudices were considered offensive to her adopted culture.
“As I’ve said to my constituents, to my colleagues, when you tell me that you are pained by something that I might say, I will always listen, and I will acknowledge your pain,” she said, before quickly deflecting back to her own victimization over being criticized.
“It’s the same that I expect—and so, when you have people on Fox News that question whether I am actually American or whether I put America first, I expect my colleagues to also say, ‘That’s not OK,’ like they should, and call that out.”
Omar pointed to the unfairness over a recent comment she made attacking White House adviser Stephen Miller, who is Jewish, as a “white nationalist.” She said others in Congress had launched similar race-baiting, ad-hominem attacks but had gone unnoticed.
Colbert expressed his solidarity, saying he also had called Miller a “white nationalist” on his show and not been criticized for it.
“You see this outrage when I speak the truth—everyone else’s truth is allowed, but my truth can never be,” the embattled and downtrodden Islamic radical complained.
Making ‘Good Trouble’
But Omar said even after calls from Pelosi—and a visit from former President Barack Obama—encouraging far-left freshman Democrats to tone it down, she had no intention of doing so.
“I think Nancy knows this very well: Women have been told to go slow and not be seen and not be heard for many years, um—and she wouldn’t have made it to where she is if she did,” Omar said, “and that’s certainly the case for minority women.”
“The three of us, we are people of color,” Omar said. “We are not there to be quiet. We are not there to be invisible. We are there to follow the lead of people like Congressman John Lewis and make good trouble.”
That trouble, however, has even many moderate Democrats concerned that it could prove to be politically costly.
“In a few months, Omar has displaced Nancy Pelosi as the Republicans’ favorite liberal boogeyman,” it wrote, “a new face the GOP can weaponize in an attempt to depict the entire Democratic party as extreme and out-of-touch.”
It noted the dilemma that the Left—which has long championed identity politics—was facing as Omar’s demagoguery risked alienating Jewish supporters and other traditionally liberal voting blocs.
“Moderate Democrats have been forced to respond to her comments, and the results have been awkward,” CNN said.
“… If Omar intends to stop speaking out, either to deny Republicans the ammunition or to acquiesce to Democratic leadership’s wishes, she shows no signs of doing so,” the article continued.
“She sees her notoriety as a political asset, burnishing her credentials as a fearless speaker of truth to power.”