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By Doha Madani
President Donald Trump tweeted a video featuring images of 9/11 in a political attack on Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. — prompting some Democrats to rebuke the president’s post.
The video that Trump posted on Friday spliced a statement Omar made about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks with footage of the Twin Towers in New York collapsing. It is captioned “WE WILL NEVER FORGET.”
Omar’s reference to the terrorist attacks came in a speech last month at an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Los Angeles. During the event, Omar spoke about how Muslim Americans’ were mistreated and their constitutional rights and freedoms were infringed on after the 9/11 attacks.
Within her remarks, Omar made a statement that her critics said glossed over that act of terror. Democrats contend, however, that the president’s video could incite violence.
“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,” she said in the speech last month.
CAIR was in fact founded in 1994, though its level of advocacy grew after 9/11.
It was the congresswoman’s wording that “some people did something” — repeated in the video tweeted by Trump — however, that Omar’s critics have seized upon.
Trump’s video post on Friday echoed criticism of Omar on the front page of the New York Post on Thursday, which splashed the words “Here’s Your Something” over an image of the World Trade Center towers ablaze.
In the days since, Omar’s comments have gone viral, and it has drawn statements — and “no comment” — from party leaders as well as presidential contenders.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., appeared to try to find middle ground between the president and Omar’s statement, though she did not mention the Minnesota congresswoman by name. Instead Pelosi said in a tweet that “The memory of 9/11 is sacred ground, and any discussion of it must be done with reverence.”
“The President shouldn’t use the painful images of 9/11 or a political attack,” she said, adding in a subsequent tweet that “It is wrong for the President, as Commander-in-Chief, to fan the flames to make anyone less safe.”
Omar, who has said that she has been subjected to numerous death threats, appeared to respond to the president’s video in a series of tweets on Saturday afternoon. She noted a number of Trump administration policies that threaten “the ideas of justice, of liberty, of the pursuit of happiness” that the “country was founded on,” including the White House’s child separation policy, transgender military ban and the Muslim ban.
“I did not run for Congress to be silent. I did not run for Congress to sit on the sidelines. I ran because I believed it was time to restore moral clarity and courage to Congress. To fight and to defend our democracy,” she tweeted.
“No one person — no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious — can threaten my unwavering love for America,” she added in another tweet. “I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans.”
Many members of party leadership declined to comment about the situation itself or speak to Omar’s remarks. Those vying for the White House, however, seemed more inclined to voice their support for Omar after freshman congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., tweeted their criticism of Trump’s post and called on Democrats to speak out.
Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who are both candidates for president, each came out in support of Omar fairly quickly.
“Ilhan Omar is a leader with strength and courage. She won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we,” Sanders said on Twitter. “The disgusting and dangerous attacks against her must end.”
Warren went further and said in a Friday tweet that any elected official who refuses to condemn the video “shares responsibility for it.”
“The President is inciting violence against a sitting congresswoman — and an entire group of Americans based on their religion,” Warren said. “It’s disgusting. It’s shameful. And any elected leader who refuses to condemn it shares responsibility for it.”
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a front runner in the wide field of Democratic presidential contenders, described the president’s tweet to a town hall in South Carolina on Saturday morning. Many of those in attendance were unaware of the situation and gasped in response.
“This is an incitement of violence against Congresswoman Omar — against our fellow Americans who happened to be Muslim,” O’Rourke said, who emphasized the prevalence of hate crimes in recent years and that the president’s comments have consequences.
Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat with an increasingly growing platform, called the video an “outright, dangerous targeting of a member of Congress” that other members should speak out against.
She also quoted a poem by a German pastor, “First They Came,” which speaks to the failure of many people to resist the Nazis’ persecution of Jews and other groups that ultimately led to the Holocaust.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who has been outspoken in her support of Omar, a fellow Muslim congresswoman, called the Post cover a “pure racist act” in an interview with MSNBC Thursday.
After Trump’s posting the video Friday, Tlaib tweeted, “enough is enough.”
“No more silence, with NY Post and now Trump taking Ilhan’s words out of context to incite violence toward her, it’s time for more Dems to speak up,” Tlaib wrote. “Clearly the GOP is fine with this shameful stunt, but we cannot stand by.”
“@DonaldJTrumpJr is right about what Ilhan Omar said,” she tweeted. “When 3,000 Americans are murdered by radical Islamic terrorists, it’s not ‘some people did something,’ it’s an act of war.”
Anti-Muslim hate crimes are approximately five times higher than they were before 2001, according to the FBI. The United States government also passed controversial surveillance laws like the Patriot Act in the wake of the attacks, which was often used as the basis to spy on Muslim Americans and mosques in the United States.