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2020 Candidates Go After Trump for Referencing 9/11 in Attack on Omar
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15 Apr 2019 01:54 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Ilhan Omar (Image source: Public domain)

 

While the country is divided politically perhaps more so now than ever before, there was one event that caused everyone to come together previously: the terrorist attacks on 9/11 in 2001.

 

That makes it curious that Donald Trump is referencing that when discussing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). He's been driving a wedge between the two sides since his 2016 campaign, yet now he's referencing an event that is known to bring the country together. 

But Trump was not likely trying to bring the United States together, as he is returning to his frequent actions distancing himself from Muslims. He seemed to be trying to gather more people to dump on Omar by referencing the attack, with Democrats accusing him of Islamaphobia and politicizing the attacks.

 

Omar is a Somali refugee who became one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress last November. She was targeted earlier this year for comments that were seen as anti-Semitic, and this week conservative media were slamming her for the comments she made about 9/11 to an audience last month that was mostly Muslim. 

Speaking at a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) event, the congresswoman mentioned the discrimination American Muslims faced after the 2001 attacks.

 

"For far too long," said Omar, "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." 

"CAIR was founded after 9/11," she continued, misidentifying the origin, as it was founded in 1994, "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'm going to talk to them and ask them why.' Because this is the right you have." 

What Omar was criticized for by conservatives was that she seemed to minimize the attacks by saying "some people did something."

 

Her fellow lawmaker, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), shared a clip of her speech to Twitter, making it go viral. He was quickly condemned by Omar's allies, but he defended his action by saying her comments were not taken out of context and complaining that she shouldn't "play the victim card." 

Omar's loyalty to the U.S. was questioned the more the clip went viral. On Thursday the New York Post published a photo of the twin towers after the attack on its cover with a headline reading, "Rep. Ilhan Omar: 9/11 Was 'Some People Did Something.' " After the headline, it said, "Here's your something."

 

One day later Trump shared the video to his Twitter page and added the caption, "We will never forget." 

Omar's fellow Democrats were quick to defend her and shred the president for trying to incite violence with his tweet.

 

"Members of Congress have a duty to respond to the president's explicit attack today," tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) shortly after Trump's post.  

She added that Omar'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." She can sympathize with her fellow freshman lawmaker having been attacked frequently by the GOP as well.

 

2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) added, "The president is inciting violence against a sitting congresswoman — and an entire group of Americans based on their religion." 

It's disgusting. It's shameful," she added in her tweet, "And any elected leader who refuses to condemn it shares responsibility for it."

 

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who officially announced over the weekend that he was throwing his hat in the 2020 presidential ring also weighed in via Twitter. 

"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." He added, "The president today made America smaller."

 

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), yet another 2020 candidate, wrote, "For two years this president has used the most powerful platform in the world to sow hate and division. 

"He's done it again. Putting the safety of a sitting member of Congress [Omar] at risk and vilifying a whole religion is beyond the pale. I'll be blunt — we must defeat him."

 

Trump has used the terrorist attacks in the past for his political gain. The day after the attacks that turned the twin towers into rubble, he bragged on a radio show that he now owned the tallest building in downtown Manhattan. 

However, during his 2016 campaign he claimed he was there pitching in and cleaning up the mess left after the towers fell, but evidence of this has not been turned up. He's also said he lost hundreds of friends but hasn't been able to name even one. There's also no evidence of his claim that he saw thousands of Muslims in Jersey City cheering when the towers fell.

 

He's long been critical of Muslims. He said former President Barack Obama was really a Muslim and not Christian, referencing it as if it would be negative if it were true. He declared in his campaign that "Islam hates us" and tried to push a "Muslim ban" on the country after taking office. 

"The function of a president is bringing our people together," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, another 2020 candidate, who shared his perspective that he knows this is a not a view that all Republicans share, in Gary, Indiana, over the weekend.

 

"George W. Bush — I didn't have a lot in common with him. His views were very different than mine," said Sanders. 

"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."

 

"This is an incitement to violence against Congressman Omar, against our fellow Americans who happen to be Muslim," said 2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke at a town hall meeting near Charlestown, South Carolina, on Saturday. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) weighed in as well. "The memory of 9/11 is sacred ground, and any discussion of it must be done with reverence. The president shouldn't use the painful images of 9/11 for a political attack," she wrote 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-MI) defended her fellow Muslim congresswoman; however, she was also critical of Pelosi for not mentioning 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, and why we ran in the first place, we are ignored," she said. "To truly honor our diversity is to never silence us." 

Omar defended herself against Trump's attack as well. "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."

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