The controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s trivialization of the 9/11 attacks has continued unabated, with top Democrats like presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren claiming Omar is a victim and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasting President Trump for criticizing Omar.
For those on vacation last week, here are the comments that led to the current firestorm:
In recent days, we have been treated to the bizarre spectacle of leftists and media mouthpieces pretending that Omar’s reference to “some people” was no different than President George W. Bush standing atop the rubble of the World Trade Center promising justice for the nearly 3,000 people killed in the worst terror attack ever on American soil. Equally bizarre is the defense that these comments were less bad when heard in context. In reality, the comments are worse in context.
Omar’s dismissal of 9/11 as just “something” that happened was in service of the falsehood that the group to which she was speaking—the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR)—was founded after 9/11 to defend the civil liberties of American Muslims. But CAIR was founded in 1994. In context, Omar is downplaying mass murder in the service of suggesting that American Muslims were the real victims of 9/11.
The spike in reported hate crimes against Muslims after 9/11 was shameful. But it is possible to condemn those crimes without trivializing the terror attacks themselves, unless the agenda is something other than the truth.
The attempt to mythologize CAIR as a response to America’s post-9/11 bigotry is particularly odious in light of the organization’s true history. As federal district judge Jorge Solis found during the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trials—the largest terrorism financing case in American history—the government “produced ample evidence to establish the association of CAIR… with HLF… and with Hamas” sufficient to name CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator.
Our government did not designate HLF as a terror group until December 2001, but it designated Hamas in 1995. It has long been apparent what Hamas is. After 9/11, Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin said “no doubt this is a result of injustice the U.S practices against the weak in the world.”
Omar displayed a similar mindset in a recently surfaced 2013 interview. Here is the clip circulating on social media, in which Omar complains that people (one of her professors in particular) refer to al-Qaeda and Hezbollah with a weighty tone they do not give to America or our Army:
What kind of sick monster would find comedy in the words Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah and compare those two terrorist organizations to America and the U.S. Army?
Rep. Ilhan Omar. That’s who. pic.twitter.com/YyyuddzGMi
— ForAmerica (@ForAmerica) April 12, 2019
Omar and her defenders will claim the clip is taken out of context. But if you watch the entire interview, it is another case where the full context is worse. Omar makes clear she is making a general cultural observation. Moreover, the interview reveals she subscribes to the view that terrorism is simply a reaction to atrocities and oppression committed by governments, and faults those who do not view the subject this way (11:40-12:40).
Omar’s mentality manifests itself in her view of Israel, including her infamous anti-Semitic rant about Israel hypnotizing the world. It also manifests in her delusional view that where a socialist dictator like Nicolas Maduro is starving and abusing the people of Venezuela, the real fear is that America is plotting a right-wing coup by supporting a legitimate, democratic socialist alternative.
It more generally manifests in her apparent view that America was the villain during the Cold War. And it manifests in a speech to CAIR that suggests the real victims of 9/11 were not the 2,977 people who died, along with their families.
One fair point Omar made in the 2013 interview: it must be annoying as a Somali-American that she should be expected to condemn every incident of radical Islamic terrorism. This would have been and would be less of a problem if the left were not so often committed to denying the role a radical theology plays in groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. But the annoyance remains understandable.
Yet with Omar in particular, the annoyance is astoundingly hypocritical. She is entirely a creature of identity politics. She and her ilk routinely respond to criticism of her far-left, anti-Semitic agenda by accusing her critics of racism, sexism, and Islamophobia. She is greatly annoyed at having to say “not all Muslims,” but spends many of her waking hours spewing prejudiced views about Jews, Caucasians, men, Republicans, and so on.
Omar and her defenders have taken this approach to a new low with their monolithic assertion that Omar cannot be criticized because it threatens her life. Obviously, death threats against Omar, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or anyone else are to be condemned in the strongest terms.
Yet the idea that public officials should be immune from criticism simply because evil or mentally ill people exist in our world is profoundly undemocratic. Moreover, it is an assertion based in the guilt by association mentality that irks Omar so much when directed her way.
Furthermore, if this assertion were applied as a standard, supporters of Sanders, like Ocasio-Cortez, should still be keeping their mouths shut because a Bernie Bro attempted to assassinate a group of GOP representatives and seriously wounded Rep. Steve Scalise. Also given that there are far more reported hate crimes against Jews than Muslims in America, Omar should have resolved to remain silent in the wake of her string of anti-Semitic attacks on supporters of Israel and her support of the anti-Semitic boycott, divest, and sanctions movement.
Of course, the left would never accept their undemocratic claim as a universal standard because progressivism is not about standards. Rather it is the political version of Calvinball, where the “rules” change whenever it empowers the left. Omar trivializes a heinous act of terror to promote her politics of victimhood, but Republicans are the real villains for “pouncing” on it, i.e., criticizing her disgusting remarks.
Indeed, Ocasio-Cortez now wants to hide behind the notion that reminding people of the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks is wrong because it is “triggering”:
AOC on NY Post/Ilhan Omar front page: “We are getting to the level where this is an incitement of violence against progressive women of color and if they can’t figure out how to get it back to policy, we need to call it out for what it is because this is not normal.” pic.twitter.com/Zxad5H4I8n
— Jason Donner (@jason_donner) April 11, 2019
No one on the right was rubbing the noses of leftists like Omar and Ocasio-Cortez in the 9/11 attacks until Omar decided to trivialize them and people like Ocasio-Cortez decided to defend Omar. “Never forget” is an entirely appropriate response, no matter how much the left wants to squeal about it.