Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s fixation on a first-term Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota took an even darker turn Tuesday night. Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress, is often the target of right-wing bile, and Carlson’s repeated, overheated segments devoted to Omar are no different. Omar is often critical of U.S. policy—foreign and domestic—and as a previous asylum-seeker in the U.S. herself, after her family fled her native Somalia, Omar has a modern perspective to offer a country grappling with the true complexity of its own story, what that means in the present moment, and the implications for shaping a collective future. Carlson, however, was having nothing of it, accusing Omar of being “ungrateful.”
During his monologue, Carlson weaponized Omar’s inspiring personal story against her, citing her family’s arrival and the socio-economic ascent that allowed the 36-year-old to become one of the most powerful people in the country. “It’s an amazing story, really. Only in this country could it have happened,” Carlson surmised. “Ilhan Omar has an awful lot to be grateful for. But she isn’t grateful. Not at all.
“After everything America has done for Omar and for her family, she hates this country more than ever,” Carlson said of Omar’s criticism of America’s treatment of immigrants and minorities, citing a description of Omar’s belief system in a recent Washington Post profile. “In Omar’s version, America wasn’t the bighearted country that saved her from a brutal war and a bleak refugee camp. It wasn’t a meritocracy that helped her attend college or vaulted her into Congress,” the profile reads. “Instead, it was the country that had failed to live up to its founding ideals, a place that had disappointed her and so many immigrants, refugees, and minorities like her.” That characterization of Omar’s beliefs, “if anything, is an understatement,” Carlson says. “Omar isn’t disappointed in America—she’s enraged by it.”
Carlson goes on to depict Omar—and her attitudes and beliefs about America—as “living proof” that the U.S. immigration system is “dangerous to this country.” “She’s a living fire alarm, a warning to the rest of us,” Carlson says. “We better change our immigration system immediately or else.”
Virtually every public statement she makes accuses Americans of bigotry and racism. This is an immoral country, she says. She has undisguised contempt for the United States and for its people. That should worry you, not just because Omar is a sitting member of congress. llhan Omar is living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country. A system designed to strengthen America is instead undermining it.
Some of the very people we try hardest to help have come to hate us passionately. Maybe that is our fault for asking too little of our immigrants. We aren’t self-confident enough to make them assimilate so they never feel fully American. Or maybe the problem is deeper than that. Maybe we are importing people from places whose values are simply antithetical to ours. Who knows what the problem is, but there is a problem and whatever that because this cannot continue. It’s not sustainable … so be grateful for Ilhan Omar, annoying as she is. She’s a living fire alarm, a warning to the rest of us. We better change our immigration system immediately or else.
Omar responded to Carlson’s screed: