Rep. Ilham Omar, D-Minn., said death threats against her have spiked as a result of an inflammatory video that was shared by President Donald Trump on Twitter.
Trump is using 9/11 to score political points
By EJ Montini
He's the president of the United States and he pretends that the things he says, when he has the biggest microphone on earth, won't lead to physical harm.
But they can.
Over the weekend President Donald Trump issued an inflammatory tweet against Minnesota Democratic freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar.
It was so bad that even Fox host Chris Wallace refused to play more than five seconds of it, then asked Trump's press secretary Sarah Sanders if Trump was inciting violence against Omar.
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Sanders said Trump wishes no "ill will" to befall the Muslim congresswoman and added, "The president is not trying to incite violence against anybody."
The controversy involves a brief clip from a speech Omar gave in March to the Council on American-Islamic Relations in which she said in part, "CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties."
What the congresswoman clearly meant, if you hear the remarks in context, is that law-abiding American Muslims were the subjects of harassment and more following the 9/11 attacks, which were carried out by Muslim extremists.
Trump — and critics of Omar — were outraged by the phrase "some people did something" for not being explicit enough. As if Omar's intent was to diminish the attack.
He tweeted: "WE WILL NEVER FORGET!" juxtaposed with images of the 9/11 attacks.
Omar's remarks were not politically correct. She should have been more sensitive to the feelings we have about 9/11, to the pain it engenders. The sadness. The anger.
But how odd is it for Trump to be haranguing a person over a lack of political correctness?
Omar is a controversial person. She already receives death threats. They've increased since Trump's tweet.
And while he has every right to criticize her, is the president so naïve he can't recognize that the tone of his response was inflammatory enough to incite violence?
Omar issued a statement afterward saying in part: "Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country's Commander in Chief. We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop.”
The video Trump tweeted juxtaposes Omar's "some people" quote with footage of the 9/11 attacks.
So, not only was the president demonizing Omar in a way that could put the congresswoman in danger, but he was using the horrible images of 9/11, pictures of Americans being murdered, to score political points.
What's worse than that?
What others are saying
Jamelle Bouie, The New York Times: "It is easy to tie these attacks to President Donald Trump's history of anti-Muslim rhetoric. But anti-Muslim prejudice was common in Republican politics before he stepped on the political stage with his “birther” charges against President Barack Obama. ... Donald Trump has simply brought this rhetoric to the bully pulpit of the American presidency. He has taken everything coursing through the last 20 years of Republican politics and made it explicit. It now has an official seal of approval."
Suad Patton-Bey, The Daily Mississippian: "Freedom of expression is a huge part of our Constitution, so let’s uphold that. Right-wing media will talk relentlessly about the hatred and protests conservative speakers experience on campuses. Candace Owens loves to complain about the intolerance she experiences for being black and conservative but has yet to show any sympathy or solidarity when Muslim-American women are attacked for their beliefs."
Renée Graham, The Boston Globe: "Racism got Trump to the White House and, with what’s likely to be a hard reelection fight ahead, he’s not going to abandon it now. It’s the kind of stupid tough-guy talk his supporters lap up. In Omar, Trump has found a target that ticks every box: She’s a black woman, an immigrant, and Muslim."
What our readers are saying
I think Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., has pretty much caused all this commotion all by herself — even before President Donald Trump tweeted anything. So, she shouldn't blame our president for her ignorance.
— Janet Stovall
A president inciting violence against a member of Congress. It's just unbelievable that this is tolerated and even encouraged by Americans today. It's disgusting.
— Tina Leisner McDermott
Omar is using treasonous language, I believe, and our spineless leaders refuse to call her out and remove her from Congress.
— Alan Wigant
Twitter needs to shut down Trump's account. He is breaching his oath to protect Americans, and likely breaking Twitter's community rules.
— Christine Huhn
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Could Donald Trump’s tweet get Rep. Ilhan Omar harmed?: Today's talker