‘Clearly, I am a nightmare…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. has on many occasions used her identity as a shield—notoriously blaming her own inflammatory hate rhetoric on the fact that she has a different set of cultural norms and experiences.
But as her mainstream appeal wanes, likely to face a primary challenger in her race next year, the freshman congressman is grasping for support wherever she can find it, and becoming even more radicalized along the way.
Omar—who was last year elected as one of the first Muslim women in Congress, alongside Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.—has been accused of repeatedly using anti-Semitic stereotypes and downplaying the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in her public comments.
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke praised Omar’s positions, referring to her as “the most important Member of the US Congress” on Twitter for her stance against Jewish Zionism.
But where most of Duke’s forays into politics wound up as unmitigated failures, Omar envisions her own historical role to be much larger.
In a recent HuffPost interview, she referred to herself as the president’s “biggest nemesis,” intent on stirring up a coalition of angry Trump-haters to help insulate her from criticism, while also underscoring her qualifications as a multi-category minority.
“Clearly, I am a nightmare [for Trump]—because he can’t stop really thinking about ways that he can continue to use my identity to marginalize our communities,” Omar said.
Ironically, putting aside her assertions that the president had sought to capitalize on her identity for political reasons, Omar, herself, has been known to invoke it quite frequently.
“If you think about, you know, historically, where our nation is at right now, there are many members of our community that, their identities are a lightning rod—they’ve become—they’re being used as a political football,” she said on the show.
“We are talking about immigrants, we are talking about refugees, women of color—people of color—minorities … Muslims specifically,” Omar continued. “And I just happen to embody all of those identities—and so it’s easy for this to be kind of self-explanatory.”
More recently, Omar staged a rally on Capitol Hill with members of radical black-supremacist groups including the Black Panthers and Black Lives Matter.
While attacking Trump specifically, her rhetoric at the rally took a surprisingly sharp turn, seeming to embrace a sort of counter-position to the president’s self-declared U.S. nationalism that instead sought to overthrow and exclude any non-‘marginalized’ American citizens.
“We are collectively saying your vile attacks, your demented views are not welcome here,” Omar, a Somali refugee, said, according to CNN.
“This is not going to be the country of the xenophobics. This is not going to be the country of the white people,” Omar said. “This is not going to be the country of the few. This is going to be the country of the many.”
It is a familiar tactic for Omar, who previously attempted to re-frame the criticism of her anti-Semitism as being itself indicative if Islamophobia.
For every criticism she receives, Omar redoubles her efforts, entrenched in the certainty that her worldview is the correct one, despite the ever-narrowing margin of support.
And for all her attacks on Trump, she seems determined to posture herself as the opposite polar extreme of what she perceives him to be—accepting that, in a sense, it makes her more similar than different; locked in her own symbiotic, yen-and-yang relationship with the president.
“As someone who certainly has survived far worse people than him, I’m going to be alright,” Omar told HuffPo. “… I always find conflicts to be the best sources for organizing.”
Although her views may be far outside the mainstream, Omar said in the article that she was able to cop with the sense of isolation by imagining a legion of like-minded followers standing beside her.
“People ask me, ‘Ilhan, do you feel afraid? Do you feel marginalized?’ And I don’t,” she told HuffPo. “Because I know hundreds of my sisters are constantly walking with me in every single space I’m in.”