The American conservative political and media establishment spent the entirety of last week choking themselves with their pearls over the fairly tame if potentially a tad insensitive remarks from our first refugee Congresswoman, llhan Omar, at a recent banquet for the Council of American Islamic Relations.
“WE WILL NEVER FORGET!” rage-tweeted Donald Trump along with a hastily edited video of Ilhan speaking and footage of the World Trade Center collapsing in a disgusting attempt to link her to the attacks, forgetting that he himself gloated about how Trump Tower was now the largest building in New York while the nation mourned.
The reactionary gutter snakes at the New York Post smeared Omar in similar fashion with a full-page cover picture of the 9/11 attacks and her quote, taken out of context. They were quickly followed by piteous weeping and moaning from elected Republicans like Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who feels so strongly about the 9/11 attacks that he refused to co-sponsor the bill extending the funding for victims’ medical care.
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
Obviously, the entire controversy is nothing but bad faith attacks by shameless hypocrites and unrepentant racists. That much was made clear this afternoon when Crenshaw chose to disparage and smear a 9/11 firefighter instead of facing his own less-than-stellar record when it comes to supporting those who put everything on the line to save their fellow Americans.
Retired 9/11 firefighter Rob Serra approached Rep. Crenshaw in the halls of Congress to ask him why he refused to co-sponsor on the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which Rep. Omar is a co-sponsor of. Unsurprisingly, Crenshaw refused to acknowledge him, prompting Serra to publicly call him out after he began trashing Omar.
Crenshaw responded by trashing him today, publicly accusing him of “conspiring” with Democrats instead of taking any responsibility for his actions. “He’s conspiring with [Representative] Max Rose (D-NY). There’s a more malicious underlying motive here I think” complained Crenshaw to the New York Daily News.
It’s a very Trumpian response from a new kid on the block who obviously is trying to hate-post his way into the national spotlight, picking on a representative from a vulnerable minority and weaponizing his prejudices to build his own clout.
His words make it obvious that this whole thing has nothing to do with 9/11 and everything to do with what Rep. Omar’s speech was actually about — demanding that American Muslims stand up for themselves in the face of bigots like Dan Crenshaw.
Her full quote about 9/11 was about how in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, America’s first reaction was to go immediately to racism and discrimination.
“No matter how much we have tried to be the best neighbor, people have always worked on finding a way to not allow for every single civil liberty to be extended to us. So to me I say, raise hell, make people uncomfortable. Because here’s the truth: 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. 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. So you can’t just say that today someone is looking at me strange and that I am trying to make myself look pleasant. You have to say that this person is looking at me strange, I am not comfortable with it, and I am going to talk to them and ask them why. Because that is the right you have.”
The election of Donald Trump and the events of the past year have made it very clear that America, as a society, is racist as hell, and Islamophobia is one of the few still publicly tolerated bigotries that still allowed to fester and grow largely unchallenged.
Nobody knows that better than Ilhan Omar. On her first day in Washington, after leaving her training at the White House, a cab driver tried to snatch off her hijab and subjected her “to the most hateful, derogatory, islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats she had ever experienced.”
From the earliest days of her short time in office, she has been accused of being a terrorist sympathizer, linked to the 9/11 terror attacks, and been the target of incessant smear campaigns, harassment, and death threats by prominent figures in the nation that gave her a home after fleeing Somalia’s endless civil war.
The inner conflict between her love for her adopted country and the treatment that she has received at the hands of its citizens has driven her to confront her enemies and to use the platform she earned to declare that this is not an acceptable state of affairs. Her remarks at the CAIR banquet set off the right-wing jackals because she let the nation know that she will not meekly sit back and be silent as she weathers the barrage of Islamophobia and racism.
The fake outrage over her “9/11” remarks has nothing to do with 9/11 and everything to do with silencing a woman of color who is loudly protesting the treatment that she and millions of other Muslims are subjected to by their fellow citizens. She is now an existential threat to the white supremacist order that Republicans are desperately trying to keep in place and a threat to the industry of manufactured Islamophobia that provides cover for America’s endless imperial endeavors in the Middle East and the thousands of dead innocents that are left in their wake.
Their ultimate goal is likely her assassination, demonizing Omar to the point that they succeed in goading one of the heavily armed white nationalist psychopaths that consume right-wing media to follow through with their daily death threats. With the memories of the Christchurch mosque massacre still fresh in our minds, it cannot be understated how dangerous it is to have the President of the United States and other members of Congress engaging in this kind of racist fearmongering — and how uniquely courageous Omar is proving herself to be by refusing to back down in the face of old white terror.