Trump is blasted for at­tack on Omar

DEMOCRATS DECRY 9/11 VIDEO TWEET Vi­o­lence against Mus­lim con­gress­woman feared

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - BY COLBY ITKOWITZ

In the 24 hours since Pres­i­dent Trump es­ca­lated an at­tack on Rep. Il­han Omar by tweet­ing a video of her spliced with footage of the burn­ing twin tow­ers, Democrats have ac­cused him of Is­lam­o­pho­bia, in­cit­ing vi­o­lence and politi­ciz­ing one of Amer­ica’s gravest tragedies.

The swift con­dem­na­tion started Fri­day af­ter­noon, af­ter Trump shared the video with his mil­lions of fol­low­ers, along with the cap­tion “We Will Never Forget.”

Omar (D-Minn.), a So­mali refugee who made his­tory as one of the first two Mus­lim women elected to Congress last year, has been the tar­get of con­ser­va­tive crit­i­cism this past week, af­ter right-wing me­dia out­lets be­gan shar­ing com­ments she made about the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks to a largely Mus­lim au­di­ence last month.

At a Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Is­lamic Re­la­tions (CAIR) event, Omar spoke about the dis­crim­i­na­tion Amer­i­cans Mus­lims faced af­ter the ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

“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.

“CAIR was founded af­ter 9/11,” she went on, “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

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.” (CAIR was ac­tu­ally founded in 1994.)

Con­ser­va­tives be­gan cir­cu­lat­ing a snip­pet of the 20-minute speech, high­light­ing the phrase “some peo­ple did some­thing” to sug­gest Omar had played down the sig­nif­i­cance of 9/11.

Rep. Dan Cren­shaw (R-Tex.) shared the clip on Twit­ter, and it quickly went vi­ral. Omar’s al­lies swiftly con­demned the con­gress­man, who de­fended him­self in an in­ter­view with NBC on Fri­day, say­ing her com­ments weren’t taken out of con­text and that she shouldn’t “play the vic­tim card.”

As the clip spread, sev­eral Repub­li­cans ques­tioned Omar’s pa­tri­o­tism and loy­alty. Things got uglier Thurs­day, when the New York Post ran a photo of the burn­ing, smok­ing twin tow­ers on its cover with the head­line “Rep. Il­han Omar: 9/11 Was ‘Some Peo­ple Did Some­thing’.”

Be­neath that, in large bold let­ters, it said: “Here’s your some­thing.”

A day later, Trump weighed in with his tweet.

Democrats re­sponded swiftly, de­fend­ing Omar and ac­cus­ing the pres­i­dent of fo­ment­ing vi­o­lence.

“Mem­bers of Congress have a duty to re­spond to the Pres­i­dent’s ex­plicit at­tack to­day,” Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted hours af­ter Trump’s mis­sive. “@Il­hanMN’s life is in dan­ger. For our col­leagues to be silent is to be com­plicit in the out­right, dan­ger­ous tar­get­ing of a mem­ber of Congress. We must speak out.”

Sen. Elizabeth War­ren (DMass.) re­sponded force­fully as well: “The Pres­i­dent is in­cit­ing vi­o­lence against a sit­ting Con­gress­woman — and an en­tire group of Amer­i­cans based on their religion,” she tweeted.

“It’s dis­gust­ing. It’s shame­ful,” she went on. “And any elected leader who re­fuses to con­demn it shares re­spon­si­bil­ity for it.”

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete But­tigieg, who served in Afghanistan, also re­sponded late Fri­day night.

“Now, a pres­i­dent uses that dark day to in­cite his base against a mem­ber of Congress, as if for sport. As if we learned noth­ing that day about the work­ings of hate,” But­tigieg wrote on Twit­ter. “The pres­i­dent to­day made Amer­ica smaller.”

Later Satur­day, Sen. Ka­mala D. Har­ris (D-Calif.) weighed in, writ­ing: “For two years, this Pres­i­dent has used the most pow­er­ful plat­form in the world to sow hate & di­vi­sion. He’s done it again. Putting the safety of a sit­ting mem­ber of Congress @Il­hanMN at risk & vil­i­fy­ing a whole religion is be­yond the pale. I’ll be blunt — we must de­feat him.”

It’s not the first time Trump in­voked 9/11 for per­sonal or po­lit­i­cal gain.

On the day the tow­ers fell, Trump mused on a ra­dio show that he now had the tallest build­strange ing in down­town Man­hat­tan. Dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, he claimed to have helped clean up the rub­ble, though there is no ev­i­dence of him do­ing so. He also said he lost hun­dreds of friends in the at­tack, but could never name one. And he claimed dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign that he saw thou­sands of Mus­lims in Jersey City cheer­ing the build­ings com­ing down, some­thing that never hap­pened.

The pres­i­dent also has a long his­tory of den­i­grat­ing Mus­lims. He of­ten sug­gested Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, who is a Chris­tian, was re­ally a Mus­lim, in­sin­u­at­ing that if he were that it would be a neg­a­tive. In his race for pres­i­dent, Trump de­clared that “Is­lam hates us.” He also for­mally pro­posed ban­ning all Mus­lims from en­ter­ing the United States dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. His ad­min­is­tra­tion has im­ple­mented bar­ring cit­i­zens of cer­tain Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries from trav­el­ing to the United States.

“The func­tion of a pres­i­dent is bring­ing our peo­ple to­gether,” Sen. Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.) told vot­ers in Gary, Ind., on Satur­day. “Even con­ser­va­tive pres­i­dents have un­der­stood that.”

“Ge­orge W. Bush — I didn’t have a lot in com­mon with him. His views were very dif­fer­ent than mine,” he told the crowd. “But re­mem­ber what he did af­ter 9/11? He walked into a mosque to say that crim­i­nals, ter­ror­ists, at­tacked the United States. Not the Mus­lim peo­ple. That was a con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­can. We now have a pres­i­dent who for cheap po­lit­i­cal gain is try­ing to di­vide us up.”

At a Satur­day morn­ing town hall near Charleston, S.C., for­mer con­gress­man Beto O’Rourke de­scribed the pres­i­dent’s tweet to the crowd, then de­nounced it in a mono­logue that lasted sev­eral min­utes.

As he re­counted the video, crowd mem­bers gasped. Then they ap­plauded when O’Rourke said the video echoes the rhetoric the pres­i­dent and his ad­min­is­tra­tion have used against Mex­i­can im­mi­grants, asy­lum seek­ers and other marginal­ized groups.

“This is an in­cite­ment to vi­o­lence against Con­gress­woman Omar, against our fel­low Amer­i­cans who hap­pen to be Mus­lim,” O’Rourke added.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) didn’t men­tion Omar specif­i­cally in her com­ments. In­stead, she fo­cused on the pres­i­dent’s politi­ciz­ing of the ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

“The mem­ory of 9/11 is sa­cred ground, and any dis­cus­sion of it must be done with rev­er­ence. The Pres­i­dent shouldn’t use the painpoli­cies ful images of 9/11 for a po­lit­i­cal at­tack,” she said in a state­ment. “It is wrong for the Pres­i­dent, as Com­man­der-in-Chief, to fan the flames to make any­one less safe.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the other Mus­lim woman in Congress, seemed to agree with a tweet crit­i­ciz­ing Pelosi’s state­ment for not ref­er­enc­ing Omar by name.

“They put us in pho­tos when they want to show our party is di­verse. How­ever, when we ask to be at the ta­ble, or speak up about is­sues that im­pact who we are, what we fight for & why we ran in the first place, we are ig­nored,” she said. “To truly honor our di­ver­sity is to never si­lence us.”

This is not the first time Omar has been tar­geted by the right.

Be­fore her con­gres­sional term had even be­gun, Repub­li­cans de­manded she be re­moved from the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee be­cause she had crit­i­cized the Is­raeli govern­ment and its treat­ment of the Pales­tini­ans.

Then, Omar made two com­ments about U.S. sup­port for Is­rael that ig­nited fresh con­tro­versy. Democrats and Repub­li­cans ac­cused her of per­pet­u­at­ing an­tiSemitic tropes. Pelosi and oth­ers con­demned Omar’s com­ments about Is­rael. Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing Trump, have con­tin­ued to use Omar’s com­ments to try to paint the Demo­cratic Party as an­tiSemitic.

Omar has said she has re­ceived sev­eral death threats since tak­ing of­fice. Last week­end, a New York Trump sup­porter was ar­rested af­ter he called Omar’s of­fice and threat­ened to put a “bul­let through her [ex­ple­tive] skull.”

Omar has said she won’t be de­terred by Trump or any­one else. On Satur­day af­ter­noon, she tweeted that she would not be si­lenced and would not sit on the sidelines.

“No one per­son — no mat­ter how cor­rupt, in­ept, or vi­cious — can threaten my un­wa­ver­ing love for Amer­ica,” she said. “I stand un­de­terred to con­tinue fight­ing for equal op­por­tu­nity in our pur­suit of hap­pi­ness for all Amer­i­cans.”

CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

Rep. Il­han Omar (D-Minn.), one of the first two Mus­lim women elected to Congress last year, has been the tar­get of con­ser­va­tive crit­i­cism for com­ments she made about 9/11 to a largely Mus­lim au­di­ence last month, es­pe­cially the phrase “some peo­ple did some­thing.”

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