Ilhan Omar, a Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota, recently penned a thoughtful and moving op-ed in the New York Times, “It Is Not Enough to Condemn Trump’s Racism.”
Her main thesis is that “the nation’s ideals are under attack, and it is up to all of us to defend them.” Let me begin by stating that her coherent essay and uplifting biography stand in stark contrast to the vile inanities and the “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” bio of our supreme leader. According to Wikipedia, Congresswoman Omar
was born in Mogadishu on October 4, 1982, and spent her early years in Baidoa,
Somalia. … Her father Nur Omar Mohamed … worked as a teacher trainer. Her mother, Fadhuma Abukar Haji Hussein … died when Ilhan was two. She was raised by her father and grandfather thereafter. … She and her family fled Somalia to escape the war and spent four years in a Dadaab refugee camp in … Kenya, near the Somali border.
After … arriving in New York in 1992, Omar’s family … secured asylum in the U.S. in 1995 … before moving to … Minneapolis, where her father worked first as a taxi driver and later for the post office. Her father and grandfather emphasized the importance of democracy during her upbringing, and at age 14 she accompanied her grandfather to caucus meetings, serving as his interpreter. She has spoken about school bullying … She recalls gum being pressed into her hijab, being pushed down stairs, and physical taunts while she was changing for gym class. … Omar became a U.S. citizen in 2000 when she was 17 years old.
Omar … graduated from North Dakota State University with a bachelor’s degree, majoring in political science and international studies in 2011. Omar was a Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota‘s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Her op-ed begins thus
Throughout history, demagogues have used state power to target minority communities and political enemies, often culminating in state violence. Today, we face that threat in our own country, where the president of the United States is using the influence of our highest office to mount racist attacks on communities across the land …
Last week, as President Trump watched the crowd at one of his rallies chant “Send her back,” aimed at me and my family, I … couldn’t help but remember the horrors of civil war in Somalia that my family and I escaped, the America we expected to find and the one we actually experienced.
The president’s rally will be a defining moment in American history. It reminds us of the grave stakes of the coming presidential election: that this fight is not merely about policy ideas; it is a fight for the soul of our nation. The ideals at the heart of our founding — equal protection under the law, pluralism, religious liberty — are under attack, and it is up to all of us to defend them.
Having survived civil war in my home country as a child, I cherish these values. In Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, I saw grade-school children as young as me holding assault rifles in the streets. I spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya, where there was no formal schooling or even running water. But my family and I persevered, fortified by our deep solidarity with one another, the compassion of others and the hope of a better life in the United States.
Congresswoman Omar says that despite the fact that she suffered prejudice as a black, Muslim, immigrant she values that democracy provides a means to make society better. (As an aside, my mother always wore a scarf. That the hijab upsets people reveals the supremacy of the reptilian brain over higher brain function. It’s a damn scarf.)
But of course, the promise of democracy is today under threat through voter suppression, ignoring of subpoenas from Congress, the use of “overtly racist rhetoric,” and more. The reasons for the weaponizing of democracy are obvious. Racism is a classic means of dividing people who should be uniting against the extraordinarily wealthy elite. As Omar puts it:
Every time Mr. Trump attacks refugees is a time that could be spent discussing the president’s unwillingness to raise the federal minimum wage for up to 33 million Americans. Every racist attack on four members of Congress is a moment he doesn’t have to address why his choice for labor secretary has spent his career defending Wall Street banks and Walmart at the expense of workers. When he is launching attacks on the free press, he isn’t talking about why his Environmental Protection Agency just refused to ban a pesticide linked to brain damage in children.
His efforts to pit religious minorities against one another stem from the same playbook. If working Americans are too busy fighting with one another, we will never address the very real and deep problems our country faces — from climate change to soaring inequality to lack of quality affordable health care.
Ms. Omar calls on us to listen to “the better angels of our nature.” As she concludes:
The proudest moments in our history — from the Emancipation Proclamation to the civil rights movement to the struggle against fascism — have come when we fight to protect and expand basic democratic rights. Today, democracy is under attack once again. It’s time to respond with the kind of conviction that has made America great before.
Brief reflections – Of course, this well-written essay won’t change the reptilian minds that follow their cult leader. They are sheep, being led to the slaughter by (almost exclusively) men who don’t care about them at all. They applaud those who want to take their health-care away and dismantle the rest of the very limited social safety net in this country. They support those who want all the wealth and power of society for themselves. They cheer his cruelty to their (perceived) enemies, not realizing they will get nothing from him and his kind. As Bob Dylan wrote they are only “pawns in the game” of the rich and powerful.
6 thoughts on “Ilhan Omar: “It Is Not Enough to Condemn Trump’s Racism””
A few very general observations, as this essay covered specifics.
At least now the reptiles are out in the open. When Reagan and the two Bushes were presidents, it was hidden away– because the three were actual people. Now we have a character out of a comic book as president.
It came on cat’s paws: all throughout the last ten years the Repuglicans were biding their time, waiting to place their clown puppet in the White House.
These comments are a collection of disjointed thoughts, rather than a coherent thesis …
In a prosperous consumer society, immigration lowers labor costs, since immigrants work harder for less compensation. They don’t “take jobs,” they just make some forms of employment untenable for native citizens, weakening negotiating power for what the native culture considers fair compensation.
In a low-unemployment environment, with low native fertility rates, this isn’t a great strain since immigrants are energizing a diversified economy.
But RATE of immigration, and regional concentration of arrivals can matter a great deal in terms of cultural disruption.
I recall stories from a decade ago that when Somali immigrants starting dominating the taxi service in Omar’s Minneapolis, they made demands that their Muslim sensibilities be respected, and that they should be allowed to refuse service to those who had alcohol in their baggage. They suggested a compromise, that a “halal” indicator be added to their vehicles, so patrons would be informed of what to expect when hailing.
And in my neighborhood, ludicrous Bay Area housing costs are leading to lots of co-habitation in single-family dwellings by multiple families. This is destroying unregulated street parking in a community of zero or single-car garages. Every fifth parked vehicle is clearly a contractor truck. (I’ve lived in the same house since 1998, and this problem is very much more recent.)
Again, this isn’t something exclusive to immigrants, but a phenomenon much more ACCEPTABLE to immigrants. So in areas of high immigrant density, it’s very disruptive.
And what do you think Omar would make of your previous post of quotes attacking religion?
I assume she’d disagree.
“where the president of the United States is using the influence of our highest office to mount racist attacks on communities across the land…”
The president uses inflammatory language to perhaps attempt to exacerbate the situation. Could be he thinks he can bring things to a head. However the ‘immigration’ issue concerns the Southwest more than anywhere else– and to do something substantial about the SW, the National Guard would have to be mobilized to patrol for years if not decades.
Thus the president is not leveling with us; he is being a demagogue, stirring emotions up while offering no clear vision on what to do.
“Last week, as President Trump watched the crowd at one of his rallies chant ‘Send her back,’ ”
“Send her back,” makes the chanters feel better yet does not at all address the overall issue of the southwestern– or any other region’s– border. “Send her back,” does nothing to address Mr. Arends very real concerns regarding immigration effects in SF, nor anywhere else.
I don’t know if the problem with Omar is her race. If she were a Somali Roman Catholic or Pentecostal I don’t think the republicans would hate her. I think the biggest issue is her being a Muslim.
As an atheist I don’t want any of my representatives to adhere to a superstition I find stupid and untrue. It’s hard for me to vote for religious people who are democrats but since I will never vote Republican I find myself holding my nose and putting my X next to the name of a Democrat who holds to superstitions I feel are repugnant. Because Omar is such a religious Muslim I don’t believe I would have voted for her and would have sat out the race. What I liked about Obama is that he would say things like God-bless America but it’s pretty obvious the man is an atheist.