Crazy Faith Ministries
The attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar, a freshman Democratic lawmaker from Minnesota, have been less than transparent in their hypocrisy, but have also set the stage for violence, not only against Omar but other Muslims in this country.
Omar, who was born in Somalia, said in a recent speech that the 9/11 attack became the excuse for racists to attack and besmear all Muslims. In that speech, she said that Muslims were tired of living with the discomfort of being second-class citizens, and she pointed to the fact that much of the animus directed toward Muslims is because in the 9/11 attack on American soil “some people did something,” and because of their actions, all Muslims in this country were “starting to lose access to” their civil liberties.
The reaction against what Omar said was swift and far-reaching and has been relentless. The attacks this week were highlighted by the president himself, who posted a video of Omar in a tweet, focusing only on those words, with the words “WE WILL NEVER FORGET” in all caps at the top of the post, as reported by The New York Times.
The attacks against Omar, coming primarily from conservative news outlets, are feeding the racism of a group of people who are fighting to “Make America Great Again,” which seems to include silencing the voices of those who speak up against the president and his policies. Politicians are warning that such vitriol coming from the president is dangerous and is tinder for a rumbling climate for racial violence. Omar has herself indicated that she has received threats against her life.
But the outrage is manufactured. No group of people likes to be lumped into a group and be called “bad” because of the actions of a few. It is a fact that “some people” did “something” that was heinous, wrong, immoral and painful to this country. There was a group of people, not an entire race of people, who carried out the attack that killed over 3,000 Americans.
Acknowledging that is simply honest.
White people are so very quick to defend themselves when racism and the heinous acts that have been carried out against Black people in this country for years are mentioned.
If one says, “White people did it,” the defensive response is quick. “We didn’t do that,” we have heard over and over again. They say that they have no control over what happened “back then,” even as they bask in the fruit of those heinous acts of a society that has favored White people from this country’s inception.
Just as Whites in this country refuse to take responsibility and do not want to be punished for something their ancestors did, Omar is stating that it is offensive for this society to attack and discriminate against all Muslims for something that a few people carried out.
It is a fact that when people act badly, they want people to forget about it. When curious progeny of those who were lynched in the South begin to dig into their family history and find evidence of one of their loved ones having been killed by racist mobs, they hit walls of silence.
The relatives of the perpetrators, or those who were simply alive at the time of the offense, refuse to talk, wondering why anyone would want to “bring all that up.” America does not want to own up to her racist history.
Conservatives in a couple of states are trying to rewrite, or redact, the actual history of this nation, saying that slavery wasn’t bad, that slaves were treated well, and they are working to keep graphic details of the horror of slavery out of textbooks. They don’t want the country’s stigma caused by racism to get any worse and they do all they can to minimize the injustices carried out by White American society.
Conversely, White American thought has lumped all Black people into one basket, a basket which says Black people are bad, are inferior to Whites, are less intelligent than Whites, are naturally violent … and so much more.
While they do not want to be lumped into the group of violent racists, they almost unconsciously lump people of other races, religions and ethnicities, into their respective baskets of biased beliefs, and the people in those baskets have and continue to suffer the condition of being second-class citizens in this country.
Omar is not denying that something bad happened or that the people who carried out the attack were not Muslim, but what she is saying is that all Muslims did not do what “some people” did. She does not want to see yet another basket of bias grow and cause yet another group of people to suffer the indignity of white supremacist hatred and treatment.
That’s fair, right, White America? You understand not wanting to be “lumped” together for something a few of your ancestors did, right?
Those in this country who resent the “browning” of America – the increase of non-White, non-Christian people – are teething at the bit to express their anger through violence. These attacks on Omar are merely excuses for them to do what they want to do, and the president of this nation is egging them on.
Hopefully, more and more politicians – both Democrat and Republican – will come forward and defend Omar’s right to express frustration over how all Muslims are in danger because of “some people” who did “something.”
She is not minimizing the 9/11 attack. To the contrary, she is maximizing the radical, violent and discriminatory tendencies of people who are aligned with white supremacist and white nationalist identity politics.
We should not let Omar stand alone. We should not let intimidation, which has long been one of the tactics of white supremacy to silence critics and to kill off challengers, to win again. This is the 21st century. It is time for racist intimidation to be cast aside once and for all.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.