President Donald Trump weighed in Friday on the most recent controversy involving Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, retweeting video edited to suggest that the Minnesota congresswoman was dismissive of the significance of the September 11 attacks.
The video pulls a snippet of Omar’s speech last month to the Council on American-Islamic Relations in which she described the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center as “some people did something,” as well as news footage of the hijacked planes hitting the twin towers. Trump tweeted, “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!”
Omar’s remark has drawn criticism largely from political opponents and conservatives who say the congresswoman, one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, offered a flippant description of the assailants and the attacks on American soil that killed nearly 3,000 people and pointed the U.S. toward war.
Neither Trump’s tweet nor the video includes her full quote or the context of her comments.
Omar told CAIR in Los Angeles that many Muslims saw their civil liberties eroded after the attacks, and she advocated for activism.
“For 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,” she said in the March 23 speech, according to video posted online. “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.”
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CAIR was founded in 1994, according to its website, but its membership increased dramatically after the attacks.
Many Republicans and conservative outlets expressed outrage at Omar’s remarks.
“First Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as ‘some people who did something,’” tweeted Texas Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a retired Navy SEAL who lost his right eye in 2012 in an explosion in Afghanistan.
“Here’s your something,” the New York Post blared on its cover beneath a photograph of the flaming towers.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she wants to hear from Omar about the comment, but the Minnesota Democrat doesn’t seem to be backing down.
Omar tweeted a quote from former President George W. Bush shortly after the attacks, when he said: ”The people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”
“Was Bush downplaying the terrorist attack?” Omar tweeted. “What if he was a Muslim.”
Some 2020 Democratic presidential candidates waded into the debate to condemn Trump’s tweet and to stand with Omar.
“She won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we,” Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted.
“The president is inciting violence against a sitting congresswoman — and an entire group of Americans based on their religion,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts wrote, also on Twitter.
Pete Buttegieg tweeted: "After 9/11 we all said we were changed. That we were stronger and more united. That’s what 'never forget' was about. Now, a president uses that dark day to incite his base against a member of Congress, as if for sport. As if we learned nothing that day about the workings of hate."
Fellow Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also said on Twitter: "Members of Congress have a duty to respond to the President’s explicit attack today. ... For our colleagues to be silent is to be complicit in the outright, dangerous targeting of a member of Congress. We must speak out." Ocasio-Cortez included a picture of German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller famous warning, "First they came..." with the tweet.
Omar has repeatedly pushed fellow Democrats into uncomfortable territory over Israel and the power of the Jewish state’s influence in Washington. She apologized for suggesting that lawmakers support Israel for pay and said she isn’t criticizing Jews. But she refused to take back a tweet in which she suggested that American supporters of Israel “pledge allegiance” to a foreign country.
Her comments sparked an ugly episode among House Democrats when they responded with a resolution condemning anti-Semitism became a broader declaration against all forms of bigotry.