Congresswoman Ilhan Omar made history during the mid-terms being one of the first two Muslim women elected into office. Her time serving the public so far has been saturated in controversy and unnecessary violent threats.
Omar fell under scrutiny after she sent out a Tweet regarding recent actions taken by Israel that many found to be anti-Semitic. Omar did later issue an apology about her wording while standing by her viewpoints that Israel is in need of reform.
Fast forward a few weeks and Omar’s comments were again in the news this time regarding the 9/11 attacks. Omar discussed how the civil rights of Muslims in this country came under attack after this tragedy saying ‘some bad people did something’.
Primarily outraged Republicans attacked Omar saying she was downplaying the tragic event. President Trump even went so far as to post a video that had Omar superimposed over 9/11 imagery. There’s no denying the fact that 9/11 was a tragic event in United States’ history. But it was tragic in different ways for everyone.
Speaking about the attacks against Rep. @IlhanMN, @DMogahed: "Why Ilhan keeps getting targeted is because she is an unapologetic Black Muslim woman and her real crime in the eyes of those attacking her is that she dares to speak out and to act like she's equal." [Vid: @amjoyshow] pic.twitter.com/XXcRVv9HB1
— Pillars Fund (@pillars_fund) April 17, 2019
Not only were Muslim-Americans mourning what was going on in their country, they were also being persecuted by white America when they did absolutely nothing wrong. 18 years later and not much has changed.
The comments made by Trump regarding Omar, and literally any other comment he’s ever made, has encouraged some to threaten hateful acts. A man, who some report is a supporter of the President, was recently arrested after calling Omar’s office and threatening to kill her.
While I guess we can take some comfort in the fact that many in Congress are calling for protection for both her and her family, this should not have happened in the first place.
The attacks on @IlhanMN are the latest in a decades-long campaign, which has become mainstream in the GOP, to try to delegitimize Muslim participation in American politics. I wrote about the roots of that campaign for the @TheAtlantic a couple of years ago https://t.co/3mu0ob6NvT
— Peter Beinart (@PeterBeinart) April 16, 2019
Is accusing the Republicans of continuing their support of Israel due to monetary contributions coming from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee risky? Yes. But these topics deserve to be spotlighted when other communities are experiencing harm and a government is acting corruptly.
Since these events have unfolded, media outlets have been running with stories about whether or not Omar is too complicated for the Democratic party to not only manage but support.
Omar is being treated as if she’s a radical party that has to be tamed. In some ways she is. Her complications lie in her tendency to be vocal about issues our predominantly white congress and media refuse to tackle.
I did not run for Congress to be silent. I did not run for Congress to sit on the sidelines. I ran because I believed it was time to restore moral clarity and courage to Congress. To fight and to defend our democracy.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) April 13, 2019
Long-term Congress heavy weights aren’t particularly pleased that the freshmen women of Congress are being vocal and standing up for the promises they campaigned on instead of just being quiet.
This treatment begs the question how much of this criticism against Omar is due to her political views and policy and how much of it is due to her being a woman of color?
Nisha Chittal wrote an amazing article for Vox in which she analyzes how women such as Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib are treated in Congress. All three of these women have been criticized by their peers on both sides of the party line for providing new ideas, challenging the norm, and being critical of how things currently work in politics.
In the midst of these attacks against the congresswoman, a social media movement was born with the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan. Users around the country have shown their support of her and her politics while condemning the hate she and other minority communities have been facing.
If we want to see a world in which everyone is treated with basic human respect and race and culture are something celebrated, then we need to listen and encourage more women like Omar, AOC , and Tlaib to speak up. These women are advocating for change that has been so long overdue.
Congresswoman Omar shouldn’t face the threats she is for simply being vocal on topics that have been pushed under the rug for decades. Her wording could have been better but her intent is clear: to call out corrupt practices and usher in an era of diversity and change. We’d be foolish not to support this.