Ilhan Omar has been a lightning rod for conservative pundits’ racist talking points since she took office in January of this year.
The degradation of her character even made its way to the White House, when President Donald Trump tweeted out a video from his official account that spliced together comments that Omar made on CNN previously about 9/11.
These comments were edited completely out of context and footage of the World Trade Center towers one and two collapses.
After this tweet, security around the Minnesota-based freshman representative was increased, and according to a report from the Washington Post, a cybersecurity expert, Chad Loder contacted the media outlet, growing increasingly concerned with the vitriol directed toward Omar.
This behavior by Republicans to incite rage and fear in their constituents toward Omar has been the game plan since day one.
During the first week of March, Omar responded to a tweet by a journalist, Glenn Greenwald, about a potential punishment from House leaders for being critical of Israel, saying “It’s all about the Benjamins,” quoting a Diddy song lyric.
This kicked off a wave of questions about her being anti-Semitic, when in fact, if one were to read what she was saying, she was critical of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country’s occupation of the West Bank, as well as lobbyist influences by pro-Israel organizations.
Fox News, the Daily Caller, and the Federalist all led their website’s news coverage with an old tweet from Omar about the 1993 Somalia operation in which US forces intervened in the capital city of Mogadishu, citing her claim that thousands of innocent civilians were killed.
This is nothing more than mud-slinging.
It is the same tired playbook with a few tweaks that the conservative news outlets and Congressional members are using on New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Certain news outlets latch onto old tweets, or responses are taken out of context during interviews and sensationalize them because our journalistic value system is broken.
Controversy sells advertising slots.
News broadcasts have not been journalistically enriching in a long time.
But I have a bigger question. What is everyone so afraid of?
Are we afraid that we’ll find out that we’ve been electing mediocre elderly white men who are out of touch with society, and that these young congressional members will shake things up?
Is it the dreaded socialism? Here’s the thing, people would not be leaning this way if CEOs were not making 650 times what the average worker makes if unions weren’t a shell of themselves due to corporate greed, and moreover, if people just did the right thing.
Yet, here we are.
We as a country should be relieved at people like Omar calling out the power of lobbyists in Washington.
Weren’t Trump supporters the ones who chanted “Drain the Swamp?”
Sorry, my mistake.
That’s only democratic swamps that need to be drained because god forbid we get rid of the good old boys club.
The biggest swamp in Washington hasn’t missed a spray tan session since 1985 and threatened Omar’s safety with his 9/11 tweet.
What bothers me the most is that when you Google “Omar tweet,” there are countless articles eviscerating her stances and questioning her qualifications, and continually bringing up her background as a Muslim as if that makes a difference.
What you do not see are enough articles highlighting the overarching problem in our society that this systematically attempted discreditation through tweets, newspaper front pages, and comments of Ilhan Omar represent.
Social media has become this toxic wasteland and its developers do not care. They are largely unaffected because their wealth has allowed them to distance themselves from the effects of their creations.
It has become a place where people will, behind the coverage of anonymity and misguided policing done primarily through algorithms that have no sense of context, suggest that Omar and her teenage daughter “should be dragged with chains behind a car.”
Another tweet said that “it would be great if someone put a bullet in Omar’s head.”
I ask this question to Jack Dorsey, to Mark Zuckerberg, and to all of Silicon Valley. Is this the country and “free and open dialogue space” you want?
Are you entertained that your privilege knows no bounds, no shame, and your empty gestures are eroding democracy?
Can you sleep at night knowing that people like Omar, who are trying to serve for a common good, something bigger than themselves have their lives threatened constantly?
All of what I have spoken about comes back to racism.
It is so deeply entrenched that the minute a woman who practices her religion peacefully and decides to dedicate her life to representing the people of Minnesota, is called horrific things on the internet that cannot be printed here.
Until we force Silicon Valley to acknowledge their hand in perpetuating racism until news coverage is done responsibly and until we as a society decide we need to do better, this sort of degradation will continue.
Ask yourself, is this the country I really want?
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