The latest right-wing groundswell against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has festered online thanks to a a brief clip of a more than 20-minute speech the congresswoman gave at the Council on American–Islamic Relations annual banquet in March. Her remarks largely centered on the persecution Muslims in the U.S. and around the world have faced as a result of anti-Islam fear-mongering.
Conservative media and politicians alike responded in stride, further immortalizing the primary point of Omar’s speech.
The clip was initially shared by a well known imam on Twitter who is opposed to CAIR. After Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted the fragmented portion of Omar’s sentence — “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something” — the hysteria snowballed. Breitbart, The Washington Times and Christian Broadcasting Network all covered the quote, which the right concluded en masse meant a sitting Muslim lawmaker was trying to diminish the 9/11 terrorist attack.
In reality, the congresswoman was trying to distinguish terrorists from all Muslims. The comment was made as part of a larger portion of the speech that focused on encouraging fellow Muslims to embrace their rights and not allow themselves to be bullied by bigots who view them as terrorists.
After “Fox and Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade suggested Omar wasn’t “American first” and the New York Post made its cover a full-page photo of the World Trade Center in flames after the second plane struck — with the headline “Here’s your something” — the controversy predictably hit the President’s radar. He tweeted out a video of Omar’s comments, juxtaposed beside footage of the 9/11 attacks in Manhattan and the Pentagon.
The delirium continued into Monday evening, when President Trump told a news outlet in Omar’s home state that she has “a way about her that, I think, is very, very bad for our country. I think she’s extremely unpatriotic and extremely disrespectful to our country.”
Even in context of the portion of the speech specifically relevant to the quote in question, it’s clear the mania is further perpetuating the congresswoman’s point.
See the full context for yourself:
Muslims for a really long time in this country have been told that there is a privilege, that there is a privilege that we are given, and it might be taken away. We are told that we should be appropriate, we should go to school, get an eduction, raise our children and not bother anyone, not make any kind of noise. Don’t make anyone uncomfortable — be a good Muslim. But no matter how much we have tried to be the best neighbor, people have always worked on finding a way to not allow for every single civil liberty to be extended to us.
So the truth is you can go to school and be a good student. You can listen to your dad and mom and become a doctor. You can have that beautiful wedding that makes mom and dad happy. You can buy that beautiful house. But none of that stuff matters if you one day show up to the hospital and your wife, or maybe yourself, is having a baby, and you can’t have the access that you need because someone doesn’t recognize you as fully human.
It doesn’t matter how good you were if you can’t have your prayer mat and take your 15-minute break to go pray in a country that was founded on religious liberty. It doesn’t matter how good you are if you one day find yourself in a school where other religions are talked about, but when Islam is mentioned, we are only talking about terrorists. And if you say something, you are sent to the principal’s office. So to me, I say, raise hell; make people uncomfortable.
Because here’s the truth — here’s the truth: Far too long, we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen, and frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties. So you can’t just say that today someone is looking at me strange, that I am going to try to make myself look pleasant. You have to say, “This person is looking at me strange. I am not comfortable with it. I am going to go talk to them and ask them why.” Because that is a right you have.
Watch the full speech below: