9/11

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she is trying to get in touch with Rep. Ilhan Omar to discuss her latest attention-getting tweet about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that has drawn new backlash to the freshman Minnesota Democrat.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to speak with her,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday when asked about Omar’s tweet, which has attracted strong criticism. “We tried to reach her, she was in transit.”

Pelosi said she wants to speak to Omar about her tweet questioning then-President George W. Bush’s New York City address to rescue workers at Ground Zero, days after the worst terror attack in American history, in which he declared “The people who knocked down there towers will hear all of us soon.”

Omar tweeted “Was Bush downplaying the terrorist attack? What if he was a Muslim,” under the Bush quote delivered at Ground Zero.

The tweet quickly drew criticism and came just a day after Omar was the subject of a New York Post cover depicting the flaming twin towers and the lawmaker’s comments before a Muslim advocacy group that “some people did something,” on Sept. 11, 2001. The commentwas widely seen as downplaying the significant and horror of a tragedy that claimed nearly 3,000 lives. Omar claimed in the aftermoth of 9/11 Muslim civil liberties had suffered.

Pelosi has yet to comment on Omar’s recent comments and tweets, but plans to respond at some point, she said.

“As is my custom with my colleagues, I call them in before I call them out,” Pelosi said. “I’ll have some comment after I do speak to her.”

A back-and-forth over Twitter about whether Rep. Ilhan Omar had downplayed the significance and horror of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks sparked debate on Capitol Hill this week.

On Friday, she suggested that President George W. Bush would have faced more scrutiny for his comments in the aftermath of the attacks if he were Muslim.

“Was Bush downplaying the terrorist attack?” Omar asked in a tweet sharing an article to the Washington Post. “What if he was a Muslim?”

The Post story included a fact check on Omar’s remarks and said they were reminiscent of President George W. Bush’s “bullhorn speech.”

“The people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” Omar said, quoting Bush’s speech.

A video surfaced over the weekend showing Omar referring to the 9/11 hijackers as “some people who did something.”

That speech was met with instant criticism from Republicans and conservative media.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, condemned Omar for trivializing the deadliest terror attack in American history.

“You described an act of terrorism on American soil that killed thousands of innocent lives as ‘some people did something,’” Crenshaw said of Omar in a tweet. “It’s still unbelievable, as is your response here.”

The right-leaning New York Post published a dramatic front page Thursday with the screaming headline “ Here’s your something.”

Former FBI Investigator and now CNN Legal Analyst James Gagliano called Omar’s tweet a “false equivalence”

“President Bush made this statement days after World Trade Center was reduced to rubble, as he stood atop the smoking pile. I was there,” Gagliano said. “We, in FBI, were working to determine involvement in conspiracy, following evidence.”

Omar and other Democratic freshman lawmakers have said that criticizing her for speaking about her experiences as a Muslim American puts her in danger.

Authorities charged a New York man last week with threatening to assassinate Omar.

“I’m not going to quote the NY Post’s horrifying, hateful cover,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. “She‘s done more for 9/11 families than the GOP who won’t even support healthcare for 1st responders- yet are happy to weaponize her faith.”

Considering her qualified apologies following repeated statements in evidence of such a viewpoint, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is likely anti-Semitic.

But I do not believe she is being judged fairly for her recent remarks on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. As the video below shows, Omar told a gathering of the Council on American-Islamic Relations that CAIR was founded after the terrorist attacks “because [CAIR] recognized some people did something and all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

Many observers are now criticizing Omar. They say her words diminish the 2,977 victims who died on 9/11, and the significance of that day in American history. But I suspect Omar’s intent was not malicious or derisory. Rather, I believe Omar was attempting to draw divergence between her Islamic faith and the al Qaeda fanatics who carried out the 9/11 attacks. When she says that “some people” did it, she meant “some people who are not us” or “not like us,” referring to herself and peaceful, mainstream adherents of Islam in the U.S.

Yes, Omar’s words were poorly chosen. And as my colleague Tiana Lowe aptly observes, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is utterly wrong to support Omar by challenging the patriotism of Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas. Crenshaw is a combat veteran of the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq. He has done a lot more to serve this nation than AOC, Omar, and just about every other member of Congress for that matter.

But I do not believe Omar’s words were designed to deride our fallen fellow citizens. The freshman congresswoman was drawing a positive application of “otherness” with regards to the ideological separation between American Muslims and al Qaeda. While it is true that al Qaeda are Islamic fanatics, it is also understandable why Omar would be frustrated at the damage that the 9/11 attacks did to American perceptions of her faith.

Many Muslims also died on 9/11, and that the vast majority of American Muslims are decent patriots. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that was her key point: al Qaeda are not us, and their evil should not be used to collectively punish Muslims. You don’t have to approve of CAIR or Omar to appreciate the legitimacy of this idea.

[Related: New York Post cover hits back at Ilhan Omar for 9/11 remarks: ‘Here’s your something’]


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