Ilhan Omar: Alinsky Radical

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Ilhan Omar’s recent speech at the Council on American-Islamic Relations has received a lot of attention and not without reason. Snippets of the speech have been posted all over social media, most notably on Twitter. The part of her speech that has caused the most righteous anger and incredulity is where the freshman congresswoman from Minnesota described the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as “some people did something.”

Naturally, many people have reacted with indignation that Omar, an elected member of Congress, would speak so flippantly about one of the deadliest terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Her comments also prompted President Trump to post a video of the 9/11 attack in New York with the words “We Will Never Forget.”

In response, leftists in the media and in Congress (notably, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders) have sided with Omar, claiming that Trump is putting Omar’s “life in danger” by “inciting violence.” Apparently, criticizing someone now puts them in danger.

The context of her words was pretty clear: “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because CAIR recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

Even if we take this to be just another case of awkward rhetoric, it still minimizes the reality of the terrorist attack and all the lives that were lost. On top of this, Omar was incorrect about the year CAIR was founded—it was in 1994, and obviously had nothing to do with responding to an attack that hadn’t happened yet.

Always the Victim
Unfortunately, this was not the only instance of Omar’s denial and rejection of America. Her entire speech at CAIR panders to Muslims living in America and invites them into battle against it. With a condescending and moralistic tone (directed toward President Trump and patriotic Americans in general) and an affected and overly exaggerated Somali accent, Omar demolishes the bridges that we are supposed to build together in order to make a better society.

She claims Muslims in America are “second-class citizens” and lack civil liberties that other Americans have. You can keep trying to be a good Muslim, Omar tells her audience, or “listen to your mom and dad and become a doctor,” get married, and buy a house. “But none of this stuff matters,” she adds, “if you one day show up to the hospital, and if you are having a baby and you can’t have the access that you need because someone doesn’t recognize you as fully human.”

Say what? Who is dehumanizing whom? What are the actual examples of this behavior and treatment?

Omar says Muslims in America don’t have spaces at work and school to pray, either. This is also untrue. Universities and many places of work have common prayer rooms for Muslims (and those of other faiths).

But beyond that, it is unlikely that such are “denied” to Muslims any more or less than they are denied to people of other faiths, as facilitating religious practice is not a typical objective of most workplaces. Christians and Jews manage to get on at work without special provisions, and so can Muslims. Again, she does not bring up any examples to support her claim that Muslims bear some kind of special burden, but in our post-truth world, facts really don’t matter.

In her speech, Omar admitted she doesn’t read the Koran and that she doesn’t know any chapters and verses by heart. Nobody is perfect and certainly there are different kinds of Muslims (practicing and secular). But for someone who makes a big deal of wearing a hijab and presumably prays five times a day, I find it curious that she has not been taught how to memorize and recite the Koran. After all, this is one of the duties of a Muslim who engages in rituals and prayers.

Omar fancies herself a radical with her fist raised in the air. She calls for her Muslim brethren to “raise hell” and “make people uncomfortable.” She admits tweeting the verses of the Koran as well as words like “As-salāmu ʿalaykum” (“Peace be with you”) and “Al-ḥamdu lil-lāh” (“Thanks be to God”) in order to force non-Muslims to “Google” these words. Nothing like using the words of peace and thanksgiving to sow distrust and discomfort!

A Leftist Above All
On top of this, not only is she turning Islam into an ideological doctrine, she is presenting to the rest of the world that this indeed is the Islam that is true and correct.

As a Bosnian Muslim, I find Omar’s words nauseating. I, too, am a former refugee, immigrant, and now a naturalized American citizen. I find her calls for destructive and spiteful actions against fellow Americans reprehensible. She sounds more like a militant Islamist calling for the oppression of the oppressor than like someone who is aware of the fact she is living in a free society.

Has she forgotten that the likelihood of being elected into public office in her birth country is very low if not non-existent? Has she forgotten that the very country she is criticizing is the country that gave her a home in a time of great need? Has she forgotten that the very reason she was elected is precisely because she lives in a country where freedom is a reality?

This is not a woman who is humble before God. And if, indeed, she is the real Muslim she claims to be, she would not be using her religion in such an ugly, tacky, and affected way.

The word Islam means submission (to God’s will). The only submission that she is practicing is the coercion of others to submit to her. Omar is a narcissist, refers to herself in the third person, and even has the gall to compare her alleged suffering to the troubles the Prophet Muhammad faced! This is the most un-Muslim thing one can say.

So, who is Ilhan Omar then? I maintain the view that Omar is interested only in leftist identity politics (as well as globalism) and the gross utilization of Islam as a religion is just an ideological strategy.

Is she an Islamist ideologue interested in the destruction of American founding principles? I don’t think it’s that simple. She certainly seems to espouse some of those beliefs to negate and reject any dialogue between people. But at the core, Omar is just another leftist ideologue, a shape-shifter who changes according to the audience she is speaking to. Islam, to her, is a cudgel. But she will find other blunt instruments if necessary.

Alinsky’s Apt Pupil in Power Politics
The only thing Omar is interested in is power. All of her tactics, all of her affectations (much like those of Ocasio-Cortez) are found in America’s college and university classrooms, where the spirit of Saul Alinsky governs and guides the teacher and the pupil.

For Alinsky, to be a community organizer is to be a radical who seeks a constant change. In Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals, Alinsky writes that a radical “does not have a fixed truth—truth to him is relative and changing; everything to him is relative and changing. He is a political relativist.” For Alinsky, this is a positive good. He is not interested in any perennial ideas or “permanent things,” to use Russell Kirk’s phrase but in coercive fluidity. Only then can a radical (such as Omar) change and twist the truth in order to suit the purposes of ideology and its implementation.

The entire cognitive structure of any radical is built around the relation of the oppressor and the oppressed. This may be rooted in Marxism because of the focus on class structure but today, absolutely anything can turn into an ideology that requires us to accept that the world essentially amounts to nothing more than this poisonous relation. This is at the core of Omar’s speech at CAIR as it is in most of her interviews and her engagement with social media.

Another vital aspect of Alinsky’s ideology is power. After all, Alinsky has said that “Machiavelli told the Haves how to maintain the power,” and now it’s time for “Have-Nots to take that power away.”

This is not say that the inequalities did not exist or don’t exist today. What is immoral is the intent and the action Alinsky advocates. It’s not about righting a wrong, it is about reversing the players in the wrong.  In effect, Alinsky is telling the oppressed to become the oppressor. This certainly goes against any possibility of social flourishing or creativity. But then again, a radical doesn’t care about that. A radical is only focused on his or her own power. As Alinsky so clearly emphasizes the “first rule of the power tactics: Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.”

Omar is the product of an anti-American leftist education. She describes herself as an “intersectional feminist.” She also uses Islam in order to force-feed Islamist ideology to people, which naturally creates more division. Her latest words and actions are only insuring more misunderstanding about Muslims, but most of all, about immigrants in general.

Ingratitude Is a Sin
This is what offends me the most—Omar presents a picture that immigrants in America are only interested in subverting the founding principles of the United States. Her ingratitude is astounding, and she is an example of what happens when an immigrant doesn’t properly assimilate and instead willingly participates in an institutional anti-assimilation movement that undermines the U.S. Constitution.

What makes Omar’s case even more absurd is that she is an elected official and as such, she is supposed to represent all Americans, not give speeches to Muslim Americans urging them to agitate others.

Just like Ocasio-Cortez, Omar exhibits a behavior more akin to a college student who is away from home for the first time and who doesn’t know what to do with all her newfound freedom and power. The big difference, however, is that she is armed with leftist ideology and in a position of political power. Her election is a perfect example of what happens when the fluid principles of globalist ideology and identity politics take precedence over merits, intelligence, and authentic patriotism.

In this sense, Omar is no different from most Democrats currently holding public office. But what makes her very much different is that she is imparting a stain on the reputation of hard working immigrants and American Muslims who express gratitude for this country and who are loyal to the republic.

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Photo Credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

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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.