Donald Trump’s vile smear of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the hijab-wearing member of Congress, as a supposed supporter of terrorism sounded instantly familiar to me. You see, Trump-loving neo-Nazis at The Daily Stormer spewed that identical type of dangerous rhetoric at me too in an effort to destroy my reputation and incite death threats. And they did it for the very same reason Trump defamed Omar, namely because both Omar and I had dared to criticize Trump.
In my case, I had written an article in May 2017—three months before the white supremacist terrorist attack in Charlottesville—where I called on Trump to use the term “white supremacist terrorism” to describe acts of violence by several self-professed white supremacists, just as he had used the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”
That was too much for Trump’s white supremacist groupies at the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer—an outlet that had posted over 100 articles supporting Trump during the 2016 campaign—who then smeared me as a terrorist involved in a recent U.K. bombing. You see, associating a Muslim with terrorism is the go-to for bigots because it plays on the worst negative stereotype associated with my faith.
And that’s exactly what Trump has done with Omar over the last few days, smearing her with wholly fabricated claims that she supports terrorism. The worst of it was Tuesday when Trump stated about Omar, “I hear the way she talks about al Qaeda,” adding, “She said… ‘when I think of al Qaeda, I can hold my chest out.’”
He said, falsely, that Omar has, “love… for enemies like al Qaeda” and that she in the past had been “talking about how great al Qaeda is.”
On Wednesday morning, Trump smeared the whole Squad that way, saying they were “pro terrorist.”
Of course, those are lies. As The New York Times and countless other outlets have documented, Omar never expressed any support for al Qaeda. In fact, in the 2013 interview that Trump was evidently quoting from, Omar unequivocally denounced terrorism by groups like al Qaeda and its Somalian branch, al-Shabaab, as “evil,” calling their attacks “heinous” acts carried out by “evil people.” These are words Trump has never used about white supremacists.
I encourage people to watch the video of Omar’s interview, where at 17:00 you can see for yourself how Trump is fabricating his claim that Omar said she proudly “can hold my chest out” when thinking of al Qaeda. As is plain to see, she was responding to the host asking about why does U.S. media outlets use the Arabic names for terrorist groups instead of English translations.
Omar responded rightly that this was “a product of this sensationalized media,” and recounted the way one college professor would over-enunciate the names of these groups each time for dramatic effect:
“The thing that was interesting in the class was every time the professor said ‘al Qaeda,’ he sorts of like, his shoulders went up and he was sort of like,” mockingly imitating his mannerism. She refused to name the professor other than to add, “you probably get to see him on CNN.”
Omar’s point, as she put it moments later, was that “when you hear a lot of people speaking in Arabic, you know, suspicion arises.” Backing that up are the countless examples of people being asked to leave commercial flights for speaking Arabic or having the police called on them.
Trump’s point was to stir up his base, knowing full well that death threats or even violence directed at Omar would once again surely follow,
In my case, I sued the Daily Stormer and last month a federal judge entered a judgment in the amount of $4.1 million dollars against the neo-Nazis. Monday, a judge recommended Angin pay $14 million for inciting “an online anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation campaign” against a woman in Montana.
The President of the United States is encouraging others to do the same thing to a Muslim lawmaker.
I hope Omar sues Trump for defamation and inciting death threats. (A recent New York appellate court decision allowed former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos’ lawsuit against Trump for defamation to proceed in state court over Trump’s objections.)
In the political sphere, the House voted last night to condemn Trump’s racist smears of Omar and fellow Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib. That resolution—backed by just four Republicans and one Independent—is necessary, but not sufficient.
Speaker Pelosi should now finally allow an impeachment inquiry to begin. Impeachment is a political remedy and having a president who supports white supremacy along with his numerous crimes outlined in the Mueller Report are clearly enough to impeach Trump in the House and trigger a trial in the Senate.
Let Senate Republicans cast votes defending Trump’s white supremacy and his crimes.