After Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) flippantly dismissed 9/11 as an event where “some people did something,” her fellow Democrats have identified the real victim: Ilhan Omar. Rather than condemning the careless words of someone who has a history of treating terrorism like a joke, Democrats have instead condemned President Trump and other Republicans for quoting and criticizing Omar. We are solemnly warned that any critiques directed at the congresswoman may result in her death. All of the 2020 Democratic candidates latched onto this talking point at exactly the same time, and using exactly the same words. Criticism is now, apparently, incitement.
I have a few points to make about all of this.
First, for the record, and contrary to media claims, Omar’s comments about 9/11 were not “taken out of context.” The Washington Post attempted to run cover for their girl by hastily publishing a “fact checking” video meant to debunk the controversy. The video purports to show the comments in context, but the context does absolutely nothing to change the tone or substance of her remarks about the September 11th attacks. If anything, context makes it worse. She waves her hand at the worst terror attack in American history and then proceeds to focus on the alleged victimization of Muslims in America. To say the least, this does not alleviate the concerns that her comments engendered.
Second, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has been (predictably) a vocal member of the chorus claiming that Ilhan Omar is somehow endangered by fair and completely in-context criticisms of public remarks she made. Ocasio-Cortez has even tacitly compared Omar’s alleged plight to that of Jews during the Holocaust (a morbidly ironic comparison, on a number of levels). Have you noticed how quickly these fierce, independent young women in the Democratic Party turn into helpless damsels in distress the moment anyone breathes a word of rebuke in their direction?
More to the point, death threats are indeed bad. I’ve gotten plenty of them in my day, and I’m not a politician on the national stage and I don’t have security or the Capitol Police watching my back. If Rep. Omar is getting threats, as she claims, the people sending the threats ought to be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But threats sent by crazies to people in the public eye are not new, not unique to Omar or women or Muslims or minorities or any other Democratic constituency, and they do not automatically turn all criticism of public figures into reckless incitement. Criticism is just criticism. It’s a necessary part of living in a free society and it is clearly covered under the First Amendment.
But if the sort of critiques now directed at Ilhan Omar can qualify as “incitement,” then Democrats are certainly guilty of inciting violence against their opponents on countless occasions. Let’s review just three recent examples:
(1) Democrats claimed that President Trump is a secret Russian agent in league with Vladimir Putin.
(2) Democrats accused Brett Kavanaugh of being a serial gang rapist.
(3) Democrats took a truly out-of-context video clip of a bunch of random high school kids from Kentucky and used it to paint them all as privileged bigots.
If this latest Ilhan Omar imbroglio “puts her life at risk,” then Democrats must answer for putting the lives of the president, a Supreme Court justice, and a schoolhouse full of teenagers at risk. By their own standard, they are all essentially terrorists. But by a more reasonable and consistent standard, they are simply guilty of constantly engaging in irresponsible, reckless, libelous, and dishonest rhetoric. The criticism of Omar is none of those things. It is just criticism, and it’s well deserved.