Why do some Americans display an unamerican attitude towards Ms. Ilhan Omar?
The Minnesota Congresswoman, Ms. Ilhan Omar, is everything America, the land of the immigrants, expects of current and would-be citizens. Loyal and eager to serve the nation and brave enough to stand up for what is right. Yet when the Congresswoman from Somalia who immigrated to America as a teenager became a lawmaker herself, she did not get the praise and support she rightly deserves. On the contrary, she instead received scorn and hate that manifested itself in many forms. In short, she was the American that America expected her to be, while those espousing to be the real Americans ironically displayed unamerican attitudes towards the congresswoman. So, who is the real American?
Why is she different than the other immigrant lawmakers?
According to ex-President Trump and his followers, the American identity is not about the ideals of America but rather a more simplistic one, a racial identity. Why else were the congresswoman and her peers who themselves are immigrants/minorities targeted by the then most powerful man in the world and merely dismissed as “Why don’t they go back and help fix the broken and crime-infested places from which they came? This racist and dangerous rhetoric did not take long to manifest itself as the Minnesota congresswoman started to receive death threats. On her Twitter page, responding to the threats, she said,
Minnesota has a relatively young Somali population of about 55,000 people, whereas 80% of Minnesotans are whites. Nonetheless, race never stopped them from electing their congresswoman with overwhelmingly wide margins. In her first election, she received 80% percent of the votes, while in her second re-election, she got 64% of the votes she needed to keep her congressional seat. This shows the true spirit of Minnesota and how the State is living up to the American ideal where a 12-year-old refugee girl is allowed to grow up and experience the American dream and hold one of the most important offices of governance.
The Minnesota Congresswoman’s father said,
“Only in America you ultimately become an American,” …..“Everywhere else we will always feel like a guest.”
Was he wrong?
If allowed to integrate into society, immigrants can make vast contributions to the nation as the cultures they bring enrich and become a resource for the nation. Ilhan Omar is living proof that a hijab-clad Muslim woman is as American as any American woman. So why don’t Republicans give the congresswoman a break?
I remember when the congresswoman’s private life was making rounds in tabloid news. Relationships are never rock-solid, and when Ms. Ilhan Omar and her husband divorced, a big deal was made of when she started dating her current husband, political consultant Tim Mynett. She was accused of having an affair with him, an allegation that has never been proven but was nevertheless condemned in the court of public opinion. Tim Mynett himself was attacked, as he was called a social climber on account of the 17-year age difference between him and his ex-wife, Dr. Beth Mynett.
Out of Context
During a press event in Minnesota, she addressed the causes of systemic racism and how to fight it from grassroots levels. She said:
“We can’t stop at criminal justice reform or policing reform. We are not merely fighting to tear down the systems of oppression in the criminal justice system,”
“We are fighting to tear down systems of oppression that exist in housing, in education, in health care, in employment, in the air we breathe.”
This got the right-wing press foaming at the mouth. They deliberately diced up her words and made it as she was calling for the annihilation and the dismantlement of the US government when it was far from the truth. She had her supporters, and one of them was Leah Greenberg, the co-executive director of Indivisible, who said the attacks on Ms. Omar were racially motivated. She said in a tweet,
“Just to be clear, Ilhan Omar is under attack by the right-wing media machine for statements that are utterly normal and totally uncontroversial when they’re delivered by white, non-Muslim politicians. As usual,”
Love her or hate her, Ms. Ilhan is the ideal American immigrant, and her successful political career speaks for itself. However, it is up to you whether you will afford immigrants the benefit of the doubt or at least show them the tolerance you would expect from them. That is why attacking Americans in public office for their immigrant backgrounds makes integration impossible, and frankly, it makes them feel unwelcome. Most importantly, it conveys that the promise of “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” are outdated fancy words that no longer serve the masses’ appeal.
However, going by the ideals the founding fathers foresaw for America, Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar is the ideal American Citizen. What do you think?