Rep. Ilhan Omar is being targeted once again by both Republicans and Rupert Murdoch’s right wing media machine, raising concerns among her supporters and colleagues about the level of hate being directed at her—and prompting a vigorous defense from some of her fellow House freshmen.
“Are Murdoch-owned media outlets—Fox News, the New York Post—trying to get Congresswoman [Omar] killed? Genuine question. I mean, this is just astonishing.” —journalist Mehdi Hasan
Omar isn’t the only newly elected Democrat to receive negative attention from right wing and politicians, but the vitriol directed at the Somali-born Democrat from Minnesota has resulted in a number of death threats.
The last few days have been more of the same for Omar after language she used last month in remarks to the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) resurfaced in right wing media.
The Congresswoman mistakenly referred to CAIR’s creation as a reaction to the 9/11 attacks in 2001 (the organization was founded in 1994) as part of a broader point about the curtailment of civil liberties in the 21st century in her remarks.
“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,” said Omar.
That phrasing—”some people did something”—set off a firestorm this week as right wing media and politicians interpreted the comment as downplaying the attacks, which left nearly 3,000 dead.
Much of the outrage has been driven by media properties owned by Rupert Murdoch: Fox News and The New York Post.
Murdoch “knows exactly what he’s doing,” said progressive PAC Justice Democrats in a tweet.
On “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning, host Brian Kilmeade took the opportunity of Omar’s comments to suggest the congresswoman had dual loyalties.
“You have to wonder if she’s an American first,” said Kilmeade, who later clarified his comments.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who was a moderator for an Islamophobic Facebook group from May 2018 to August 2018, said on Twitter that Omar’s comment was “unbelievable” and implied that the congresswoman was downplaying the attacks.
“Crenshaw is twisting her words because she’s black, Muslim, and the GOP and Fox [want] to paint her as foreign and un-American,” said Pod Save America co-host Tommy Vietor. “Democrats should call out his bullshit. So should the media.”
Rather than take a breather, however, Murdoch properties pushed even harder on Thursday. The Post published as its cover Thursday morning an image that superimposed Omar’s phrasing of “something” over a picture of the World Trade Center burning during the 9/11 attacks.
“Here’s your something,” the Post thundered.
Splinter‘s Katherine Krueger noted the hypocrisy in the selectively edited clips and subsequent outrage machine epitomized by the Post‘s cover.
Mehdi Hasan of The Intercept wondered if the paper—and Murdoch in general—was trying to get Omar killed.
“I mean, this is just astonishing,” said Hasan.
Omar, for her part, pushed back against her critics Wednesday. Calling the remarks from Kilmeade and Crenshaw “dangerous incitement,” Omar expressed hope that “leaders of both parties will join me in condemning it.”
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