The anti-Omar crowd also loves to spread around an old Associated Press file photo that, they insist, proves Ilhan Omar has been caught red-handed, handling a rifle while attending an al-Qaida training camp in Somalia. “Aim at the diaper,” commented one user (“diaper” presumably meaning hijab) after the photo was posted on Facebook in August and shared over 4,000 times. In October, Oley Larsen, a state senator from North Dakota, posted the same photo on his Facebook page, calling Omar an “elected terrorist” and instructing his followers to “share it everywhere”. There’s only one problem with this masterclass in political gotcha! The picture was taken in 1978, but Omar wasn’t born until 1982. Excellent sleuthing, geniuses.
But idiocy is not the problem here. Accountability is. Too many Republican politicians and would-be politicians traffic freely in these malicious lies while suffering little to no consequences from the larger Republican leadership. Larsen was only mildly reprimanded by Republican Rich Wardner, the North Dakota senate’s majority leader. George Buck was merely removed from the Republican’s “Young Guns” program, an initiative to train and support candidates in competitive House races.
And why would it be any different? At the top of the Republican party is President Donald Trump, a man who has focused so much of his own hatred and demagoguery specifically on Ilhan Omar that, last summer, the crowd spontaneously burst out chanting, “Send her back, Send her back!” while he smirked like a cartoon character in self-satisfaction.