Democrats, including many of the presidential hopefuls, came out in full force to defend Rep.
Ilhan Omar and blast President Trump after he tweeted (and then pinned) a graphic and severely misleading video that spliced images of the September 11 attacks and a few words uttered by the freshman lawmaker in a 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,” she said in the March 23 speech. “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.” (CAIR was founded in 1994 and Omar’s spokesman recognized the lawmaker misspoke and meant to say that the organization doubled in size after the attacks.)
Some conservatives on Twitter have been making a big deal about Omar’s words, questioning her patriotism for referring to a terrorist attack as “some people did something.” Even a few Republican officials had been saying the four words meant that Omar was trying to minimize the attacks. Now Trump has amplified that misleading attack against a member of Congress who is no stranger to death threats.
Fellow first-term lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was one of the first to speak up, saying that members of Congress “have a duty to respond to the President’s explicit attack today.” Omar’s “life is in danger” and for lawmakers “to be silent is to be complicit in the outright, dangerous targeting of a member of Congress.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi followed suit on Saturday and slammed Trump for using the “painful images of 9/11 for a political attack” against the Minnesota Democrat. “It is wrong for the President, as Commander-in-Chief, to fan the flames to make anyone less safe,” Pelosi wrote in a subsequent tweet.
Many of those who spoke up were presidential hopefuls, including Bernie Sanders, who said that “the disgusting and dangerous attacks against her must end.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren characterized Trump’s effort to incite “violence against a sitting Congresswoman—and an entire group of Americans based on their religion” as “disgusting” and “shameful.” Beto O’Rourke also joined in and said the president’s tweet amounted to an “incitement to violence’ against Omar.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar specifically pointed out that someone has already been charged with threatening Omar’s life. “The video the president chose to send out today will only incite more hate,” Klobuchar said. “You can disagree with her words — as I have done before — but this video is wrong. Enough.” Sen. Kamala Harris took the long view and noted this was just one more example of how for two years the president “has used the most powerful platform in the world to sow hate & division.”
Omar made it clear Saturday she would not stand down. First, she tweeted a quote from former president George W. Bush who days after the attack said: “The people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” She then asked whether that meant Bush was “downplaying the terrorist attack.” Later she sent out a series of tweets reaffirming why she ran for office and thanking those who offered her support. “No one person – no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious – can threaten my unwavering love for America,” she wrote. “I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans.”