There were four words: “some people did something.”
They have launched a furious controversy that pits the President of the United States against a congressional newcomer in yet another example of the divisiveness that characterizes today’s America. The words were spoken by Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar, one of two Muslim women elected to the House of Representatives last November, while she addressed a civil rights gathering organized by the Council on AmericanIslamic Relations (CAIR) on March 23. It was a 20-minute 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,” Omar said. “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 comment on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed 2,753 people in the World Trade Center, 184 at the Pentagon and 40 in a Pennsylvania field was hurtfully flippant and drew justifiable criticism. But it took two weeks to make the news. The Huffington Post’s Rowaida Abdelaziz reported that a Muslim prayer leader in Australia posted a clip from Omar’s speech on April 8 which was shared by Texas Republican Rep. Dan Creshaw. “Fox & Friends” picked it up, with co-host Brian Kilmeade wondering whether Omar “was American first.” The New York Post put on its cover a photo of the World Trade Center in flames under a banner headline: REP. ILHAN OMAR:
9/11 WAS ‘SOMETHING SOME PEOPLE DID SOMETHING’. Superimposed on the photo in large characters are the words:
“Here’s your something”, followed by: “2,977 people dead by terrorism”. President Donald Trump tweeted a video of the World Trade Center towers burning, with Omar’s photo between them, adding: WE WILL NEVER FORGET!
Trump’s video was certain to inflame some people and it did. “Since the president’s tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life – many directly referencing or re plying to the president’s video. This is endangering lives. It has to stop,” Omar stated. She had already faced death threats since entering Congress less than four months ago.
Slate reported that Patrick Carlineo, 55, of Addison, N.Y., was charged with threatening to “put a bullet in her f..king skull”
in a March 21 phone call to Omar’s office. He told authorities “that he was a patriot, that he loves the President, and that he hates radical Muslims in our government.” In mid-March, a woman made a bomb threat to a Los Angeles hotel where Omar was scheduled to speak, The Blast reported. The threats have now become so serious that Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she asked the House Sergeant-at-Arms to look into security for the congresswoman. Politico reported that more than 150 progressive leaders and groups have come out in support of Omar. And Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Karen Bass, D-Calif., said the “outrage”
being generated against Omar “further puts her life in danger,” The Associated Press reported.
There is more to this intense hatred than just the four controversial words. It feeds on the slander that all Muslims are potential terrorists and can anyhow never be loyal Americans. Omar answered this herself: “No one person – no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious – can threaten my unwavering love for America. I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans.”
The main point which Omar made in her March 23 speech, about the relentless Islamophobia which confronts Muslim Americans daily, along with the fact that she spoke just a week after a white racist massacred 50 Muslims in New Zealand on March 15, has gone mostly unmentioned.
Alissa Torres, whose husband was killed in the World Trade Center when she was seven and a half months pregnant, put the dispute in context in an opinion piece in among other things, “I am outraged that there is more outrage directed against Omar than there is against the undermining of national security systems that were put in place after 9/11. Whole federal departments have been left leaderless or under inferior care. One day, some people will do something to us and they will succeed, because those in charge failed in their duties to protect us, distracted as they were by trumped-up battles with make-believe enemies.”
But the president, whose parents and wife came as immigrants and whose reaction after the destruction of the World Trade Center was that he now owned the tallest building in Manhattan and took rebuilding loans meant for small businesses, according to the Guardianis clearly using his 2016 playbook and making immigration and Islamophobia the issues that he expects will earn him a second term as president.
If Americans let him. The Guardian, saying,