Star Tribune makes embarrassing false equivalence between Ilhan Omar and Donald Trump

“Some people did something.”

That’s as far as the Star Tribune is willing to quote Ilhan Omar — speaking about 9/11 — in their editorial painting the Muslim Congresswoman as an equally guilty combatant in a “war of words” with Donald Trump. They found Omar’s words to be lacking in reverence: “the seeming nonchalance of the phrase stings.”

Here’s just slightly more context for Omar’s quote:

“Some people did something and all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

In other words: Just because some people did something, doesn’t mean all people should be punished. It’s the kind of plain language you would use to explain the concept of bias and bigotry to a child:

Some people are not all people.

Some Muslims are not all Muslims.

19 is not 1.8 billion.

The Star Tribune editorial board is smart enough to understand this kindergarten-level formulation. In case you’re wondering, they can’t claim not to have read the full context of Omar’s speech because they linked to it.

And while we’re talking about the importance of context, please read the entire editorial because I can’t do justice to how over-the-top terrible it is.

According to the Star Tribune, Omar and Trump are two sides of the same coin, with styles that “are divisive and invite retaliation and escalation.” Trump’s retaliation was to clip the same four words — “some people did something” — and insert Omar into a graphic video of the September 11 terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 people.

As a result, Omar has reported an increase in death threats made against her. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sought to provide Omar with additional protection from the Capitol Police. We know from experience that the President’s followers are listening when he tells them who to hate.

The Star Tribune should be embarrassed for asserting equivalence between Congresswoman Omar’s speech and President Trump’s hate-speech.

Here’s yet more context from Omar’s speech, delivered on March 23, a week after 50 Muslims were killed by a white nationalist gunman who was “deeply engaged in a global alt-right culture” on social media:

“The reason I think that many of us knew that this was going to get worse is that we finally have a leader, a world leader, in the white house who publicly says Islam hates us. Who fuels hate against Muslims. Who thinks that it’s ok to speak about a faith and a whole community in a way that is dehumanizing, vilifying, and doesn’t understand — or at least makes us want to think that he doesn’t understand — the consequences that his words might have.”

The plain truth is that Donald Trump likes to use women, people of color, and especially Muslims as punching bags. The Congresswoman happens to be all three. The New York Times has reported the obvious: Trump believes beating up on a Muslim Congresswoman is a winning political strategy that will get him reelected in 2020. He doesn’t care about the effect his words have to incite others.

The Star Tribune editorialized against Trump’s bigotry just last year (“Stop the slurs and lies, President Trump”). So this is less about propping up Trump than choosing a convenient moment to stomp on an elected official, Omar, whose politics they have always disagreed with. But in the current context this is irresponsible. This is not a case of “both sides.”

The Star Tribune ends their attack on Omar by saying she should focus on her “work” and “stop trying so hard to ‘raise hell.'”

You’ll find the correct response to that bit of advice if you’re willing to investigate the full context of Omar’s speech from March 23:

“Many people expect our community to feel like it needs to hide every time something happens. But repeatedly we have shown them that we are not to be bullied; we are not to be threatened; we are not to be terrorized; we are strong and resilient; and we will always show up to be ourselves because we know we have a right to a dignified existence and a dignified life.”

My report from St. Paul’s Highland District Council election

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Here’s how the Highland District Council election in St. Paul was pitched to me as the perfect hyperlocal story: 70-year-old former Vikings tight end Stu Voight was going to be there to campaign for one of the board candidates. And I said, “That’s great! Brain damage is exactly what neighborhood politics needs more of.”

But first you’re probably wondering: what is a District Council? In Minneapolis we have 70 neighborhood associations. In St. Paul they have 17 district councils. And the best way to explain the difference: district councils are like if a dozen Minneapolis neighborhood associations got together to form a NATO-style military alliance. If you’re doubting this military alliance analogy, you should know that one of St. Paul’s other district councils calls itself the “Fort Road Federation.”

Funded by the City of St. Paul, district councils serve an engagement and advisory function similar to Minneapolis neighborhood organizations. They have no official policy-making power, other than whatever clout might be ceded to them by individual members of the city council.

On my arrival at Highland Park Middle School I was immediately reminded of a DFL convention, just with better food. There was an all-you-can-eat sandwich buffet provided by Jimmy John’s. Days later, I’m still recovering. I think I had 13 of those little sandwich sections.

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Minneapolis City Council considers response to proliferation of tobacco shops

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Following menthol cigarette restrictions approved by the Minneapolis City Council in August 2017, the number of stores selling menthol cigarettes decreased from 354 to 82. This is according to a staff presentation to the City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee last week.

The city’s updated flavored tobacco ordinance, which took effect in 2018, restricted availability of menthol products to tobacco shops and off-sale liquor stores. According to the city, “These changes are to prevent youth tobacco use, lifelong addiction to nicotine, the negative health effects of tobacco use and the tobacco-related health disparities between white populations and people of color.”

But as a result of these restrictions — with convenience stores looking to recover a lost profit center — the number of tobacco shops in Minneapolis increased from 25 to 52.

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Power Grab Hits Roadblock at Charter Commission

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A plan to alter the composition of the Minneapolis City Council had no support at the Charter Commission on Wednesday. This means the Charter Commission will not take up this issue again. The group behind the proposal will now need to collect and submit the required number of voter signatures if they want to put the charter amendment on the ballot.

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Seward Commons sparks debate about city-financed development in Minneapolis

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The Minneapolis City Council’s most contentious development debate since last year’s comprehensive plan has nothing to do with building height or parking, and everything to do with how it could be financed.

Last Friday, the council agreed to delay a vote to authorize an analysis of whether “tax increment financing (TIF) assistance is appropriate and justifiable” for Bessemer at Seward Commons. The delay was intended to give Ward 6 Council Member Abdi Warsame a chance to be present for an issue affecting his ward.

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“First in the nation” Minneapolis elections face shortage of precincts, turnout disparities

As we learned after last November’s midterm, Minneapolis voters have a lot to be proud of. The city’s top election official, City Clerk Casey Carl, presented a report yesterday touting Minneapolis’ “first in the nation turnout” that “exceeded averages for the state of Minnesota and the entire nation.”

Turnout of voting-age citizens in Minneapolis was 68% in the 2018 general election. The statewide average was 64%.

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