Ilhan Omar, the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, was born on October 4, 1981—but sounds like a U.N. delegate from November 10, 1975, where, in a tribunal of the despotic against the democratic, she says that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” She sounds like a character out of time—filibustering her time—whose rhetoric is timeless, not because of its poetry, but because of its polluted assertions since time immemorial: that one people have defiled the land with blood; that the land cannot be cleansed until it is cleared of a bloodthirsty people; that the land cannot be purified until every land purges these people from the earth. She sounds the verses, for the digital age, on behalf of the world’s oldest hatred. She sounds like many things, but she does not sound like an American.
Representative Omar is an American citizen, but she does not live like one. How she lives has nothing to do with her right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Her rights are no more or less than mine, for which I have a duty to guarantee her right to offend—for which I have no right not to protect her right to be wrong—while I have every right to expose her ignorance and hate.
To say Omar does not live like an American is to say she does not act like the representative of all Americans within her district. When she was a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, she hosted a monthly “Coffee and Kulan” event for constituents. She should not have used her office by using that name—kulan is the Somali word for meeting—because Somali is not the language of America. Nor is Spanish, Portuguese, or French. A plurality of Omar’s constituents may speak Somali, but the people of Minnesota do the people’s business in English. If Omar wants her coffee and kulan, let her run a restaurant under that name. Let her launch a coffee shop under that name. Let her use that name for public ends as a private citizen, not for personal gain as a public official.
When Omar says she is “unapologetically Muslim,” what she says is—unquestionably—un-American. It is also un-American to be unapologetically American, by the way, rather than proud of America for the price we paid—and continue to pay, in blood and treasure—to assure the survival and the success of liberty. It is something else, however, to be unapologetically Muslim; as if Islam is the only religion without sin; the only religion without a history to confront; the only religion without a history of murder and confrontation.
Unapologetic about what she believes but cannot prove, and unsympathetic toward those she condemns without proof, Ilhan Omar owes America an apology.
Photo credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call