The Slatest

Watch Ilhan Omar Respond to Son of 9/11 Victim Who Criticized Her in Anniversary Ceremony

Nicholas Haros Jr. stands at a podium wearing a T-shirt that says "SOME PEOPLE DID SOMETHING!" A woman stands beside him.
Nicholas Haros Jr. reads the names of 9/11 victims during the commemoration ceremony at the Sept. 11 memorial in New York on Wednesday. Don Emmert/Getty Images

Rep. Ilhan Omar directly addressed the criticism she received from the son of a 9/11 victim during last week’s ceremony at ground zero on the 18th anniversary of the 2001 attacks. Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan asked Omar about Nicholas Haros Jr., whose mother Frances Haros was killed at the World Trade Center. He wore a black T-shirt to the anniversary ceremony with the words “Some people did something,” a reference to words that Omar uttered to the Council on American-Islamic Relations that sparked a firestorm of controversy. “ ‘Some people did something,’ said a freshman congresswoman from Minnesota,” Haros Jr. said Wednesday. “Today I am here to respond to you exactly who did what to whom.”

At one point of the interview, Brennan brought up Haros Jr. and asked Omar if she understood why people found her words offensive. Omar replied that her words were meant to highlight how some Americans had “their civil rights stripped from them.” Omar began by saying that 9/11 “was an attack on all of us,” and she “certainly could not understand the weight of the pain that the victims of the families of 9/11 must feel.” But she also said it was important for Americans not to forget “the aftermath of 9/11” when “many Americans found themselves now having their civil rights stripped from them.” Her words were meant to reflect that “as a Muslim, not only was I suffering as an American who was attacked on that day, but the next day I woke up as my fellow Americans were now treating me as suspect.”

Brennan went on to ask Omar whether it has been difficult “to be less of an activist and try to be a legislator” and whether the language “you use has gotten in your own way.” Omar denied that was the case. “Some people would say, ‘Ilhan, you should speak a certain way. Ilhan, you should do something a certain way,’ and I think that’s contradictory, really, to the purpose of—of my existence in this space,” Omar said. “I believe that my constituents sent me to make sure that I was bringing in a conversation that others weren’t having, that I was speaking for people who felt voiceless for a long time.”