Unlike the rest of the news media, I’m not going to assume there’s any coherent or consistent meaning lying inside President Trump’s tweets about the unnamed “congresswomen” from this weekend.
But while we’re leaping, as usual, to labeling the tweets “racist,” let’s at least acknowledge that Trump was right insofar as his tweet pertained to Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
Trump’s tweets were, if anything, a truncated version of a Washington Post profile on Omar from just two weeks ago.
From that story:
Another gem in the story recounts the time Omar, on the day she was elected as a state representative in 2016, wrote a letter to a judge who was about to sentence men in the United States who had been convicted of attempting to aid the Islamic State terrorist network.
“The desire to commit violence is not inherent in people,” she wrote in defense of the convicts. “It is the consequence of systemic alienation.” For context, the problem of Minneapolis locals (Somalis) attempting to join the Islamic State is so pervasive that Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andrew Lugar said in 2015 that “Minnesota has a terror recruiting problem.” And the New York Times reported that year that “Federal prosecutors have charged more than 20 people in Minnesota in relation to Al Shabaab, a Somali terrorist organization. At least 10 more have been charged with supporting the Islamic State.”
No matter what anybody says about America being “multicultural” and “a nation of immigrants,” I’ll go out on a limb and say that Omar’s views aren’t shared by the typical native-born American, or the typical immigrant, for that matter.
Of course, we should expect Omar’s view of America to be somewhat skewed. She only got here as a child and then moved to “Little Mogadishu” in Minneapolis, where there are more Somalis than anywhere else outside of Somalia.
She’s a foreign-born Muslim with views shaped by a foreign experience as she lived in a foreign country. And when she got to the U.S., her family immersed her in an area with people who share her backstory.
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., said it himself. In an interview in March, he defended Omar by “lamenting that many of the media reports surrounding [her] recent controversy [over Israel] have omitted mentioning that Omar, who was born in Somalia, had to flee the country to escape violence …” according to the Hill, Clyburn said in the interview that, “It’s more personal with her. I’ve talked to her, and I can tell you she is living through a lot of pain.”
This is no different than what Trump said in part of his tweet series that we’ve now been talking about for three days. He referred to “congresswomen” who “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all)” and he said those congresswomen are “now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.”
No part of that doesn’t apply to Omar.
Carp all you like over who it was Trump was referring to in his nonsensical tweets and whether they were racist. But don’t pretend he didn’t have a point about at least one congressperson in particular.