AP NEWS

Progressives call for Dem leaders to defend Ilhan Omar

April 15, 2019

More than 200 progressive groups are circulating a letter demanding members of Congress defend Rep. Ilhan Omar amid the fallout from a President Trump-endorsed video condemning the freshman congresswoman’s comments about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The groups are accusing Democratic leaders of not doing enough to defend Ms. Omar from what they consider racism-driven political attacks.

“The attacks aimed at Rep. Omar are beyond the pale,” the letter read. “Far from legitimate disagreements and critiques, there are intentional efforts to spread misinformation and incite fear and fate in the hearts of people in this country.”

The Minnesota Democrat has drawn ire on social media for appearing to be dismissive of the Sept. 11 attacks, which left nearly 3,000 dead.

“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose our civil liberties,” Ms. Omar said at a Council on American-Islamic Relations event last month.

President Trump tweeted a video Friday of Ms. Omar’s comments spliced with footage of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, along with the words, “We will never forget!”

While conservatives railed against her comments, Ms. Omar’s fellow progressives including Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused them of misrepresenting the freshman Democrat’s words and trying to incite violence against her.

Ms. Omar herself released a statement Sunday evening, saying his video has prompted an “increase in direct threats on my life.”

Ms. Tlaib, who, along with Ms. Omar, is one of the first two female Muslim lawmakers elected to Congress, also took her own party’s leadership to task, accusing them of appropriating members of color to serve their own purposes.

“They put us in photos when they want to show our party is diverse,” the Michigan congresswoman tweeted. “However, when we ask to be at the table, or speak up about issues that impact who we are, what we fight for why we ran in the first place, we are ignored. To truly honor our diversity is to never silence us.”

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 why we ran in the first place, we are ignored. To truly honor our diversity is to never silence us. https://t.co/7T1OlwS1YG Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) April 13, 2019

Justice Democrats,a progressive political action committee, agreed.

“As the Republican Party plays up dangerous white nationalist themes ahead of the 2020 elections, the response from Democratic Party leaders to this recent barrage of attacks against Ilhan Omar has been slow, tepid, and even dismissive,” group leaders tweeted Saturday.

Nevertheless, Mr. Trump’s video prompted a handful of 2020 presidential candidates and Rep. Jerrold Nadler who himself has accused Ms. Omar of anti-Semitism in the past to come to her defense.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the president’s tweet, saying it put Ms. Omar’s life in danger.

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