Some People Did Something

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I’m a #NeverForget guy.

I’m of the opinion that we don’t see the imagery of 9/11 often enough – it seems relegated to once a year. But THIS is not what I had in mind.

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Thursday’s New York Post cover showed images of the Twin Towers burning down on 9/11 juxtaposed with a quote from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) 

The quote was from remarks she made at a March 23 banquet hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Her description of 9/11 as “some people did something” has now caused a firestorm.

Here is the context:

“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. 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. So you can’t just say that today someone is looking at me strange and that I am trying to make myself look pleasant. You have to say that this person is looking at me strange, I am not comfortable with it, and I am going to talk to them and ask them why. Because that is the right you have.” 

Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler points out that:

CAIR was founded in 1994, not after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Jeremy Slevin, Omar’s spokesman, said she misspoke and meant to refer to the fact that the organization had doubled in size after the Sept. 11 attacks.”

There’s been a full-throated reaction from both sides of the aisle.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) and former Navy SEAL: “First Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as ‘some people who did something.’ Unbelievable.”

Brian Kilmeade, a host of Fox & Friends said: “You have to wonder if she is an American first.”  

Donald Trump Trump Jr. tweeted Thursday: “This woman is a disgrace”  

But others faulted the NYPost.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) called the New York Post’s cover a “pure racist act."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was similarly appalled by the newspaper:

“To circulate all around New York City an image that is incredibly upsetting and triggering for New Yorkers that were actually there and were actually in the radius and that woke up one morning or were in their schools and didn’t know if they were going to see their parents at the end of the day, to elicit such an image for such a transparently and politically motivated attack on Ilhan,” she said, trailing off. “We are getting to the level where this is an incitement of violence against progressive women of color.”

The New York Post on Friday did not back off – in their editorial on Friday:

“Omar and her supporters simply want to stifle debate by declaring any criticism of her to be out of bounds. And Democrats are playing along, either echoing the “out of context” excuse or just staying silent. It’s even worse than their failed effort to condemn her remarks accusing American Jews of dual loyalty and of buying political support for Israel. The dodges may play well on twitter but we suspect most Americans will remain appalled.”

Here’s my take. 

I think that her words, at best, were poorly chosen. Never should anyone, much less a member of Congress minimize Sept 11th by saying “that some people did something”.

Better that in making a point about civil liberties, she had correctly noted that terrorists motivated by a distorted image of their faith killed 3,000 innocent Americans. I can understand why she might have been uncomfortable using the words radical Islam in front of an Islamic group.

Here’s what she should have said: 

CAIR doubled in size after 9/11 because they recognized that in the aftermath of the most despicable and heinous terrorist attack on our country perpetrated by radical Islam, law abiding, peace loving Muslims were losing access to our civil liberties.

After I said that on SiriusXM Radio, a friend pointed out that she was being held to a different standard because she’s Muslim. And it made me think.

What if it had been a different type of political leader who similarly sought to make representative Omar’s point about the diminution of civil liberties post 9/11? 

That’s a Libertarian mantra – so what if a Libertarian leader, say Ron Paul, was speaking at an affinity group, say, CATO, and similarly said: “some people did something” that caused the rest of us to lose our civil liberties.

Would he have faced the same reaction as Congresswoman Omar?

Probably not.

Bottom line – her words were totally in appropriate – and so too was much of the reaction.