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HAWORTH: Trump Is Right To Criticize Ilhan Omar, But Not For Her Background

The Democrats' radical socialist views and bigoted rhetoric are the real problem.
Minnesota Democratic Congressional Candidate Ilhan Omar speaks at an election night results party on November 6, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Omar won the race for Minnesota's 5th congressional district seat against Republican candidate Jennifer Zielinski to become one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

After rocketing to political stardom, Rep. Ilhan Omar has been cemented as one of the faces of American “progressivism.” The first-term congresswoman from Minnesota, alongside her fellow “squad” members Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Rep. Ayanna Pressely, is one of the most prominent voices in favor of the array of radical policies demanded by the increasingly radical Left. For Omar, healthcare is a human right. Housing is a human right. Higher education is a human right. She has also been provided with unquestionable authority by an adoring mainstream media, and even famously appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The title read “Women Shaping the Future.”

Ilhan Omar is a public figure, and a rising star in her own party at that. Therefore, she is fair game for criticism. Moreover, given her outsized authority within the radical wing of the Democratic Party, she is fair game for targeted criticism from President Donald Trump. However, Trump’s methods of attack against Omar have at times been not only misdirected, they’re handing Omar the opportunity to avoid legitimate criticism under the banner of claiming victimhood.

Last year, Trump sparked outrage when he criticized the “squad” on Twitter, suggesting that they “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” 

More recently, Trump referenced the “where you came from” trope while speaking to supporters in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. “She’s telling us how to run our country.” ‘’

Omar’s response began with “Firstly, this is my country & I am a member of the House that impeached you.” She is correct.

Trump’s line of attack is misguided for three reasons. First, Ilhan Omar is a United States citizen, and has been for 20 years. Indeed, Omar has been a U.S. citizen longer than the First Lady, with Melania Trump obtaining citizenship in July 2006. However, whether you’ve been a citizen for 50 years or 30 minutes, citizenship of the United States is a binary status. To treat someone’s views as invalid because they were not born in the United States is, by definition, xenophobic. To treat someone’s citizenship as invalid because they were not born in the United States is, by definition, un-American.

Secondly, the “go back where you came from” argument is unnecessarily providing Trump critics with another opportunity to claim he’s “racist.” While some will argue that it’s valid to request that those who advocate for political systems respect the fact that they have failed elsewhere, that is simply not what Trump is saying. Telling United States citizens elected to the House of Representatives to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” or that “she’s telling us how to run our country” makes their supposed “foreign home” the target of criticism, and not their ideas.

Lastly, and most importantly, Trump’s strategy provides Omar with the ability to continue spewing hateful, bigoted, and ideologically immoral nonsense. By focusing on Omar as an immigrant, he makes it easy for the Left to — understandably — defend Omar as victim. He also makes it easy for Omar to stand on the platform of intersectionality and use her authority as a “black Muslim woman” to reject Trump’s rhetoric as bigoted on its face. 

Instead, Trump should be focusing on what makes Omar truly objectionable — her views. Criticize her for the radical socialist policies she promotes, which are based on an ideology of greed, entitlement, and an ignorance of history and reality. Criticize her rampant and shameless obsession with spewing anti-Semitic tropes that fuel the rising rate of anti-Semitic attacks across the United States. Criticize her leadership and the leadership of her fellow Democrats, which has left the city of Minnesota in ashes.

Omar’s ideological positions are so abjectly appalling that there is a wide range of legitimate criticisms about her which can be made. Where she “comes from” is not one of them. What matters is what she says and what she thinks. Somalia could be a shining paradise, and she would still be a terrorist-defending, anti-Semitic socialist whose policies will drag the United States — her country — into an abyss of misery. 

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