Maybe she should have stopped at “some people did something.” When Ilhan Omar made her original remark in April, she waved off the murder of 3,000 Americans to claim that the true victims of 9/11 were the Muslims who faced discrimination afterward. After the son of a 9/11 victim called Omar out for her dismissal of the deaths of Americans at a memorial service this week, CBS’ Margaret Brennan asked Omar on Face the Nation yesterday to explain if she’d learned anything from the criticism.
Yes, Omar explained — that the real victim was Ilhan Omar:
Unbelievable. Ilhan Omar refuses to acknowledge why her flippant description of 9/11 as "some people did something" was offensive and then paints herself as the victimpic.twitter.com/FDOcNbCF42
— Elizabeth Harrington (@LizRNC) September 15, 2019
MARGARET BRENNAN: This was the anniversary this week, the 18th, of the 9/11 attacks on our country. And at a Ground Zero- well- remembrance ceremony- I’ll call it- the son of one of the victims stood up and specifically called out language you had used in the past that he characterized as not respectful when referring to the three thousand people who were killed by Al-Qaeda. You said, “some people did something,” and he put it right there on his t-shirt. Do- do you understand why people found that offensive?
REP. OMAR: I mean so, 9/11 was an attack on all Americans. It was an attack on all of us. And I certainly could not understand the weight of the pain that the victims of the- the families of 9/11 must feel. But I think it is really important for us to make sure that we are not forgetting, right, the aftermath of what happened after 9/11. Many Americans found themselves now having their civil rights stripped from them. And so what I was speaking to was the fact that as a Muslim, not only was I suffering as an American who was attacked on that day, but the next day I woke up as my fellow Americans were now treating me a suspect.
And Omar was soooo oppressed that she, er … [checks notes] got elected to the state legislature and then to Congress. Now 9/11 has been reduced not just to a bogus origin story for CAIR (which was founded seven years earlier and had eight chapters before 9/11), but now reduced to a bogus victim-origin story for Omar herself. Sure, thousands of people died, but I lived with a few jackasses! And then, um, got elected to Congress!
So clearly, the answer to Brennan’s question is no, Omar hasn’t learned a damned thing since April. All she has done is demand that people feel sorry for her more specifically.
Brennan also never tests Omar’s claim that “many Americans found themselves now having their civil rights stripped from them,” but she should have. The implication here, and more explicitly stated by Omar at other times, is that Muslim-Americans were the ones whose civil rights had been stripped. Of course, that’s not true at all; no law has been passed that targets Muslim-Americans, and the Bush and Obama administrations stepped all over themselves to ensure that increased security methods didn’t unfairly target Muslims. One can argue that the Patriot Act and expansion of surveillance systems have eroded some privacy rights, but that would apply to all Americans, not “many Americans.”
Instead, Brennan allows Omar to explore her personal victimhood as [checks notes again] a member of Congress and a high-profile politician, To be fair to Brennan, she asks a good question, but it’s clear where Omar’s perspective rests:
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you- do you feel like it’s been tough for you, here in Washington, to change your rhetoric, to- to be less of an activist and try to be a legislator? That- that sometimes the language you use has gotten in your own way?
REP. OMAR: I certainly don’t think that. You know, when we were celebrating few nights ago, I talked about how some people would say, “Ilhan, you should speak a certain way. Ilhan, you should do something a certain way,” and I think that’s contradictory, really, to the purpose of- of my existence in this space. I believe that my constituents sent me to make sure that I was bringing in a conversation that others weren’t having, that I was speaking for people who felt voiceless for a long time. And I think it’s really important for us to recognize that it’s a new Congress. It’s a diverse Congress and we’re not only diverse in our race or ethnicity or religion, but we are also diverse in our perspective, in our pain and our struggles, and in the hopes and dreams that we have, and the kind of America that we want to shape for all of us.
The answer to “do you think you should focus on legislating” turns into yet another tiresome criticism-is-oppressing-me cri de coeur. Brennan never bothers to challenge that either, which is a shame but understandable in its own way. After all, how long would it be before Omar began claiming that Brennan was oppressing her by criticizing her answers?