“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.”