“Some people did something.” That is how U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D.-Minn.) categorized a terrorist attack against the United States that killed 2,996 people.
If you didn’t know who Omar was, you might be able to brush off her remarks as a harmless misstatement by a naive person who just didn’t think about what she said before she said it and was unaware that her statement would be considered controversial.
Unfortunately, though, “some people did something” was not the first controversial remark that Omar has made. In fact, Omar, 37, has been so controversial during her three months in the U.S. Congress that she has already spurred a Congressional debate about anti-Semitism and has become a symbol of what many political observers regard as a dramatic leftward, even radical, shift by the Democratic Party.
Omar has justifiably been denounced by innumerable people for calling 19 Al Qaeda terrorists who hijacked four airplanes and crashed them into two 110-story buildings, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania “some people.” And the phrase “did something” to describe the most horrific mass murder in America’s history has justifiably been denounced by innumerable people.
Given the justifiable critiques of Omar’s “something” remarks at a March fundraiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and her earlier use of anti-Semitic expressions while criticizing supporters of the U.S.’s ally, Israel, it’s reasonable to ask: Why aren’t Democrats more critical of Omar and why aren’t they doing “something” about it?
To be specific, why have Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives not removed Omar from the House’s Committee on Foreign Affairs? In January, Republicans removed Congressman Steve King (R.-Iowa) from his positions on all three of the committees he served on (Agriculture, Judiciary, and Small Business) because he questioned why the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” were offensive.
The GOP House leadership expressed moral outrage about King’s statements, but Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues in the Democratic House leadership have not expressed anywhere near that kind of moral outrage about Omar’s behavior. Omar, like King was, is on three committees. She’s also on the House Committee on the Budget and the House Committee on Education and Labor.
You would think that at a minimum the Democrats would remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee because her views on the topic are way out of the mainstream of traditional Democratic and Republican bipartisan support of tough measures against foreign terrorists as well as support for Israel.
Freshmen are rarely selected to serve on such a prestigious committee and she has no expertise in foreign affairs. King, on the other hand, has been in Congress since 2003 and had expertise in agriculture and small business.
Dems Defending Omar
For decades, the bipartisan approach that Democrats and Republicans had on foreign policy meant that they would be equally critical of remarks that showed indifference or worse to American victims of violence by foreigners.
Based on the statements by Democrats and Republicans after Omar’s speech to CAIR, which was named by the U.S. in 2007 as an unindicted co-conspirator in a case involving a Muslim group providing funds to the Hamas terrorist group, that bipartisan approach seems to be dead.
In fact, Democrats are continuing to defend Omar.
“2020 Dems stand by Omar as she’s hammered for 9/11 comments,” is the headline of an NBC News story about several presidential candidates taking Omar’s side after President Donald Trump criticized her. Bernie Sanders called her “a leader with strength and courage.” Jay Inslee, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Beto O’ Rourke, and Tim Ryan are also quoted in the article defending Omar.
The presidential candidates could have been appealing to radical voters, but non-presidential candidates also defended Omar. Jerrold Nadler, the chairperson of the House Judiciary Committee, said he had no problems with her 9/11 remarks and Bennie Thompson, the chairperson of the House Homeland Security Committee, said “I saw the speech she gave and I saw nothing wrong with it.”
On the other hand, USA Today’s article on Omar’s comments was entitled “Conservatives bash Ilhan Omar for reference to 9/11 as ‘something’ that ‘some people did’” because Republicans did take a moral stand on her insensitivity to the thousands of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw noted that she was the “First Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as “some people who did something.”
Republican National Committee Chairperson Ronna McDaniel went a lot further. “Ilhan Omar isn’t just anti-Semitic – she’s anti-American,” McDaniel said tweeted. “Democrat leaders need to condemn her brazen display of disrespect.”
Democratic Party leaders have had chances to condemn Omar before, but they haven’t. Earlier this year, Omar said “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it’s OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” in reference to Americans who support Israel and “It’s all about the Benjamins baby” in an inference that American politicians support Israel because they get paid via a lot from Pro-Israel lobbyist groups.
Omar’s 2019 comments spurred Democratic Party leaders to formulate a Congressional resolution denouncing her comments, but Nancy Pelosi buckled under the pressure of Democrats who are, believe it or not, more liberal than her.
First, Pelosi removed Omar’s name from the resolution and made it a condemnation of anti-Semitism. Then, she made the resolution a generic condemnation of all bigotry — a position the Congress presumably has always had.