The Perfect Storm: Outrage Politics & Rep. Ilan Omar

By DaiJhah Owens

They didn’t care about what she said, they just knew you would.

By her, I am referring to freshman lawmaker, Rep. Ilan Omar of Minnesota. Ms. Omar has been in the news cycle for 2 weeks straight. She has recently come under fire for remarks she made to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR. During her speech, Omar was quoted saying, “because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” in reference to why CAIR was founded around the 9/11 attacks (the group was actually founded in 1994.)

As you can imagine many people did not take too kindly to Ms. Omar’s remarks. 9/11 is a sensitive topic in our country. Americans do not take it lightly when discussing it. It is understandable why some would be offended by what she said. However, like many things in the media nowadays, a 20 minute speech has been reduced down to one 5 second quote. If you watch her speech in it’s entirety you would hear that she was advocating that all Muslims not be treated as second class citizens because of the actions of a few evil people.

The response Ms. Omar got about her remarks are not surprising– disheartening, but not surprising. It’s a tale as old as time. See resistance, villainize resistance, end resistance. Similar to tactics used historically against the Black Panther Party and others, if they can villainize a political movement of oppressed groups, they can discredit the legitimacy of the movement all together. The president and republican politicians saw a perfect opportunity to appeal to their base just ahead of the 2020 elections. It wasn’t a heartfelt disapproval of what Ms. Omar said with the 9/11 victims in mind; this was a “Come 2020 if you vote Democrat, you’ll be voting in terrorist sympathizers.” In a political climate like the one we have today, politicians didn’t care about what she said or the nuances of her whole speech, they just knew it would make many angry. They knew it would paint Ms. Omar and the democratic party in a bad light. It was politics 101 and the American people fell for it, like we do most of the time.

Ms. Omar is everything this country is against. She is a woman, she’s a black woman, she is a black woman who happens to be Muslim. She is everything some are socialized to hate. Ms. Omar is the perfect weapon for the opposition to use for their own political gain. They recycled the narrative that black women, specifically black Muslim women, cannot be trusted and in turn should be feared.

Could Ms. Omar have used different words when making her point? That’s for you to decide. But let’s be honest, she was the enemy before she even opened her mouth. Just ask Assata Shakur; if they can’t kill you, they’ll make you the villain of your own movement.

DaiJhah Owens is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. DaiJhah is passionate about shifting political power to oppressed groups through education. She believes there is nothing more powerful than an educated black woman who can smell political BS a mile away! Connect with her on Instagram at @d_nakhole!

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