AMERICAS ASIA EUROPE MIDDLE EAST AFRICA TURKEY

ARTS & CULTURE BUSINESS LIFE SPORTS

FOCAL POINT OFF THE GRID STORYTELLER

PERSPECTIVES RESEARCH CENTRE WORLD CITIZEN JOBS

The American right is using a Muslim Congresswoman to split the Democrats

  • Wilson Dizard
  • 17 Apr 2019

With US presidential elections fast approaching the Democratic Party could have a hard time uniting as it dithers in dealing with Trump.

Ilhan Omar has become a lighting rod in American politics due to her faith and race, in America's ongoing cultural cultural wars. ( Getty Images )

A small but vocal group of educated-stupid neoconservative scribblers has declared that Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar is responsible for dividing the Democratic Party by making “controversial” statements about September 11. 

It is well overdue for the Democratic party to call out Never-Trump neocons and their pearl-clutching concern trolling.

In a just and good universe, one we do not inhabit, the neoconservative responses to Omar’s outspokenness would be the last straw. On March 23, weeks ago, Omar described the September 11 attacks as “some people did something” which resulted in the erosion of civil liberties for Americans, especially Muslim Americans.

Conservatives pounced on the apparent lack of recognition of the monumental crime while remaining mute on the matter of civil liberties in Muslim communities. 

Of course, what they really don’t like is the speaker, a black, Muslim woman and refugee, and not the words she used. President Donald Trump, true to form, appointed himself ring-leader of the racist incitement against the freshman representative.

Omar is not dividing Democrats by having the audacity to exist. What is dividing the party is the cynical, even cowardly, short-sightedness of the Democratic leadership, that has repeatedly offered a snivelling or lukewarm defence of Omar. Meanwhile, on Friday, Trump decided to post to his Twitter feed images of the attack alongside Omar saying “some people did something”.

“Since the President’s tweet Friday, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life—many directly referencing or replying to the President’s video,” Omar said in a statement on Sunday, also posted to Twitter. “We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop."

Trump on Monday was unapologetic about the consequences of his tweet, when a reporter for local ABC station KSTP asked him if he had any “second thoughts” about sending it, considering it had led to death threats.

“No, not at all,” Trump replied. “Look she’s been very disrespectful to this country. She’s been very disrespectful, frankly, to Israel. She’s somebody that doesn’t really understand life, real life, what it's all about. It's unfortunate. She's got a way about her that's very bad for our country. I think she’s extremely unpatriotic and extremely disrespectful to our country.”

Note that Trump did not, as is his habit, reject the premise that he had encouraged death threats against Omar. Indeed, he accepted it and remained unapologetic. The leader of Democrats in the lower chamber of US Congress, California Representative Nancy Pelosi, issued a statement in response to Omar saying she had been put in danger by the president’s tweets.

“Following the president’s tweet, I spoke with the Sergeant-at-Arms to ensure that Capitol Police are conducting a security assessment to safeguard Congresswoman Omar, her family and her staff.  They will continue to monitor and address the threats she faces,” Pelosi said

“The president’s words weigh a ton, and his hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger.  President Trump must take down his disrespectful and dangerous video.”

Pelosi has a lot to deal with as Speaker of the House, and the president encouraging death threats against one of her colleagues is just one problem among many. It is also not clear what she can do to fix this problem. Pelosi could, of course, start by refraining from referring to the most progressive members of the Democratic caucus as being “like five people”.

The real responsibility rests with Democrats rejecting the Republican grifters who denounce Trump, sometimes even encouraging people to vote for Democrats, but nevertheless have urged the party to disown Omar for the sin of being “too controversial”.

There are several of them, but the best example is David Frum, a speechwriter for George W Bush, whose most significant career achievement was the disaster of the Iraq War. 

Frum, in true charlatan fashion, wrote that Democrats risked falling into a “trap” of having to defend Omar. They should renounce her instead, he argues.

“After Trump’s tweeted attack, Omar will become even more internally uncriticisable and unmanageable, without becoming any more careful or responsible. Indeed, the speech by Omar that provided Trump with the sound bite he exploited—’some people did something’—itself exemplifies her carelessness and irresponsibility,” Frum, a flimflam, wrote.

“The speech was delivered at a fundraiser in California for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Here’s the full sentence from which Trump took his sound bite: ‘CAIR was founded after 9/11, because they recognised that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties’.”

It is beyond fitting that Frum, whose work in the Bush administration helped erode those civil liberties Omar was talking about, would almost two decades later be completely blind to the problem he himself created and its effect on Muslims, not just Americans but around the world, too. 

Designing a system of warrantless surveillance and secret gulags and fretting about it falling into the hands of a democratically elected madman is, well, exactly what civil liberties advocates were worried about in 2001.

At the same time, liberal publications and liberal television networks keep foisting Frum on the public, abetting the rehabilitation of his blood-soaked career by being a Republican who criticises the venal weasel in the White House. 

Frum and other neoconservatives, Max Boot in particular, are not courageous for their anti-Trump stances, which are about as newsworthy as a dog riding a surfboard, a feat that does take courage.

Internecine fights between Democrats are bad enough for the party without the unnecessary contribution of neoconservatives, whose main beef with Trump is that he branded the Iraq War as a failure. 

But hearing that from Trump, surely their intellectual inferior was a form of disrespect they couldn’t abide. Of course, they also dismissed criticisms of the war from plenty of smart people, too, which makes you wonder whether Frum, despite his Harvard education, is also, in fact, not smart.

In the final analysis, this is not a time for Democrats to be taking advice from dumb people, like Frum, no matter how impressively macabre their resumes are. It is perhaps fashionable in Washington to brazenly brandish a proud portfolio of horrific failures, but that fashion cannot go out of style fast enough.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT World.

We welcome all pitches and submissions to TRT World Opinion – please send them via email, to opinion.editorial@trtworld.com

Related

Popular