Donald Trump apologies are a rare commodity, and he has no inclination to dispense one to Ilhan Omar. The president visited Minnesota yesterday and sat down with local ABC affiliate KSTP to promote the effects of his tax bill. When Tom Hauser told him that the representative from MN-05 blamed him for death threats she’d received, he scoffed at any idea of apologizing, calling her “extremely unpatriotic and extremely disrespectful”:
The president also said he will not apologize to Omar after he posted a tweet that featured her giving a speech, in which he says she appeared to minimize the terrorism on Sept. 11, 2001. Even though she says it’s resulted in death threats to her, he says he has no second thoughts about the tweet.
“Look, she’s been very disrespectful to this country. She’s been very disrespectful, frankly, to Israel. She is somebody that doesn’t really understand life. Real life,” he said.
In a statement released Sunday night, Omar accused the president of inciting violence against her.
“Violent crimes and other acts of hate by right-wing extremists and white nationalists are on the rise in this country and around the world,” Omar wrote. “We can no longer ignore that they are being encouraged by the occupant of the highest office in the land.”
The president didn’t back down and went on to question her patriotism.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “She’s got a way about her that’s very, very bad, I think, for our country. I think she’s extremely unpatriotic and extremely disrespectful to our country.”
Criticism is not incitement. If it were, then Omar’s statement about Trump qualifies as incitement by accusing him of encouraging hate crimes. That’s at least as demagogic as Trump’s tweet about Omar, and probably more so. It’s a tactic to get the news media in position to demand that Trump stop talking about Omar, which frankly might have worked with anyone less shameless than Trump.
Guy Benson has a few things to say about “incitement,” too:
In their defenses of Rep. Ilhan Omar, many fellow Democrats and leftist partisans have conflated vehement critiques with incitement, a transparent and deliberate effort to deflect and disqualify entirely reasonable and justified anger over Omar’s pattern of incendiary, bigoted, or insensitive comments. She’s a walking political problem for the Left, so they’re attempting to paint those who notice and object as engaging in dangerous, out-of-bounds rhetoric. It’s cynical, and it must not succeed. If this is liberals’ new standard, their frequent, vituperative broadsides against President Trump (who faces numerous threats) constitute ‘incitement’ that must be silenced, for his safety. Their vicious campaign against Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination would also certainly have fit the same bill, as he and his family received death threats after Democrats dialed up their language to eleven.
Indeed, virtually any intense denunciations of Republican figures, rhetoric, or policy could arguably rise to the level of incitement under these rules. Remember, the attempted mass assassination of GOP Congressmen on a baseball field was perpetrated by a left-wing extremist shouting about a healthcare bill he opposed, and which Democrats said was “evil” and would kill people. Loudly opposing that bill clearly put lives at risk. Stop the incitement. And imagine the danger liberals have placed Rep. Steve King in through their incitement. Much like Omar, King drew widespread ire over his pattern of deeply insensitive and bigoted comments (unlike Omar, he was confronted with serious consequences from his own party). By calling him a racist, even if true, their words might lead one of their unstable followers to snap and inflict harm. Stop the incitement.
Omar is every inch the demagogue that Trump is, perhaps even more brazenly so. Progressives back her because they want someone who fights against Trump, but that’s precisely why Republicans eventually rallied to Trump too. No one apologizes for anything in politics any more except in self-serving non-apology apologies, but in this case Trump has no reason to apologize for criticizing Omar. The voters of MN-05 elected an embarrassment to Congress, and they should be thinking about their options for replacing her with a progressive who wants to work rather than make anti-Semitic slurs and posture as a poor victim of the American politics that elevated her to Washington DC.