Hollow Globalism Drives Ilhan Omar’s Politics of Affectation

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The world,” “the planet,” and “other nations” get a lot of mentions in the speeches of newly elected members of Congress such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Each of them focuses on what can be done globally, usually at the expense of the United States. This calls into question whether they are here to represent their district constituents or if they are on a mission to submit America to global governance.

Like a misguided college undergraduate, Ocasio-Cortez awkwardly intones the alleged merits of socialism, conveniently ignoring the death toll. Or perhaps, like many undergraduates, she believes that gulags were “educational camps.”

Tlaib is openly more proud of being Palestinian than about being American. And like Ocasio-Cortes and Tlaib, Omar uses worn-out clichés about what’s wrong with America. Not coincidentally, fixing those things means embracing a globalist ideology.

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Omar called for the application of “universal values to all nations.” According to Omar, only then, can we truly achieve world peace.

“Tackling the existential threat of climate change” is another one of Omar’s missions. Clearly, the environmental apocalypse is coming for us in about 20 years (never mind that that’s also what they’ve been saying for 20 years.). She also wants to address the  “crippling burden of student debt,” and wants to ensure that no one in America “dies from lack of health care.”

This is a tall order, especially for someone like Omar. She and her freshmen sisters sound like overeager Ph.D. candidates who want to write a dissertation about the history of the world as explained by the history of the cosmos.

As is the problem with a great many people fueled by “knowledge” gleaned from dissertations, Omar’s call to action is based merely on theoretical and rhetorical points. Not only is much of what she argues based on a lack of evidence (e.g., climate change) but the other issues she addresses are so skewed in their presentation that they end up reading like a meaningless word salad.

Omar survived a war in Somalia and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was just a teenager. I can certainly empathize with this. Having survived a war and the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia, I also immigrated to the United States, a few months shy of my 17th birthday. It takes a lot of courage to make a decision to come to another country, but this courage and the desire for a better life must drive every immigrant who decides to become a part of America’s fabric.

But if Omar is a courageous immigrant, she is is not a very grateful one. And this helps explain her perceived poor reception. Gratitude for being accepted into America, for becoming an American citizen, and for being part of America’s political community as a citizen, is not expressed by some warm and fuzzy feeling, devoid of intelligence or a capacity for healthy critique of the country’s ongoing problems. But there is a great difference between acknowledging where America can improve and a denial of America’s greatness.

Gratitude is a state of being, which induces reflection on the past, present, and future. Ideally, it should also involve a fulsome understanding of and thankfulness for the principles of the United States, and the courage that men like Washington, Adams, and Jefferson had to begin this experiment in liberty.

An immigrant’s gratitude also involves a joyful acceptance of becoming an integral part of America’s story. By choosing to come to America and choosing to become naturalized and assimilated, an immigrant demonstrates a necessary respect for the new country—a place that will not simply be a place to live, but instead a new home. This means that there is an internal obligation to live according to the principles of the Constitution of the United States and not actively work against them.

Most of the statements in Omar’s op-ed are vague. She wants an “inclusive foreign policy,” but she doesn’t really explain what that would mean. It sounds like the rhetoric of “hope and change,” which was merely a way to disguise, euphemistically the argument that “America is bad” and needs “fundamental transformation.”

At their core, people like Omar begin thinking about political and economic problems from one perspective only: America is not a good country and it has been founded upon flawed principles. The values of freedom, peace, and opportunity that America is alleged to be set up to protect, do not exist for people like her, she insists. She is aggrieved and  disappointed that America has not lived “up to those values.”

She argues for “peace and human rights” but her statements are a hodgepodge of the usual platitudes about the need for “dialogue,” which boils down to saying that she and other leftists must agitate until we submit to their demands. It is difficult to take Omar’s statements about peace seriously given her recent comments about Israel. Her language certainly is not helping to advance interreligious Jewish-Muslim dialogue and relations. Her clear anti-Semitism is only making the situation worse.

Omar wants to apply “universal values” to all nations—but why this concern with the world? Why should the globalist approach to politics be the primary mover of government officials who are supposed to work in the best interest of the American people?

Instead of fully embracing her life as an American, Omar has chosen to bask in her “otherness” and issue an implicit denial of U.S. sovereignty by taking on the globalist approach to politics. Instead of embracing an opportunity for a dialogue, given her unusual position of being both an American and a Muslim, Omar is so wedded to her Muslim identity that she uses Islam as a political football to gain points among the proponents of identity politics.

It is a mere affectation. This is where a doctrine of false multiculturalism and forced diversity leads. In order to support genuine diversity among people, we have first to reaffirm our common American identity. After all, America is the only country where such a thing has ever been possible.

People like Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, or Tlaib do not represent that American ideal. They should not be elected on the basis of this superficial identity politics, but instead should have to justify their positions on the same grounds every other American politician should justify them: the substance and strength of their political ideas for America. Their ideas should affirm a reality that has driven countless immigrants to come here: America’s greatness and the possibilities of individual success.

Photo Credit: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

About Emina Melonic

Emina Melonic is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness. Originally from Bosnia, a survivor of the Bosnian war and its aftermath of refugee camps, she immigrated to the United States in 1996 and became an American citizen in 2003. She has a Ph.D. in comparative literature. Her writings have appeared in National Review, The Imaginative Conservative, New English Review, The New Criterion, Law and Liberty, The University Bookman, Claremont Review of Books, The American Mind, and Splice Today. She lives near Buffalo, N.Y.

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