News & Politics

Bernie, Beto, Buttigieg, Warren Claim Trump Is 'Inciting Violence' and 'Hate' With Omar 9/11 Video

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in front of the U.S. Capitol. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

On Friday, President Donald Trump tweeted a video with the footage of the 9/11 attacks interspersed with the Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) remarks minimizing those attacks. She has received a great deal of flak for summarizing the terror attacks as “some people did something.” Democrats running for president in 2020 accused Trump of inciting violence and hate with the video.

“The President is inciting violence against a sitting Congresswoman—and an entire group of Americans based on their religion,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted. “It’s disgusting. It’s shameful. And any elected leader who refuses to condemn it shares responsibility for it.”

“Ilhan Omar is a leader with strength and courage. She won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we. The disgusting and dangerous attacks against her must end,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted.

“We are stronger than this president’s hatred and Islamophobia. Do not let him drive us apart or make us afraid,” former Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-Texas) tweeted.

Pete Buttigieg, the gay millennial mayor of South Bend, Ind., and the current rising star in the 2020 Democratic primary, fired off five tweets in response.

“After 9/11 we all said we were changed. That we were stronger and more united. That’s what ‘never forget’ was about. Now, a president uses that dark day to incite his base against a member of Congress, as if for sport. As if we learned nothing that day about the workings of hate,” Buttigieg began.

He minimized the threat of radical Islamic terrorism by warning against the amorphous threat of “hate.” “I served overseas, at risk to my life, in the struggle against such terrorism. But it can only be fully defeated if we have leaders at home who defuse its capacity to sow hate—hate against Islam or against any number of ‘others,'” the mayor added.

Buttigieg accused Trump of making America “smaller” and said, “it is not enough to condemn him; we must model something better.” He added, “The threats against the life of [Ilhan Omar]make clear what is at stake if we fail to do this, and to beat back hate in all its forms.”

Indeed, Omar has faced death threats, but Trump’s tweet was not inciting violence or “hate” against her. His video attacked her for minimizing the horror of the 9/11 attacks.

Those attacks were not just inspired by “hate,” but by the ideology of radical Islamic terrorism. The connection between this terrorism and Islam does not mean all Muslims are terrorists, and most American Muslims seek to live in peace with their neighbors. However, the violent stand in Islam goes back hundreds of years and needs to be confronted. Muslim reformers like M. Zuhdi Jasser and Maajid Nawaz are leaders in this effort, and prove that Islam can and does rise above the violence and terror.

Omar’s remarks did not just minimize 9/11, they also distanced Islam and the organization she was addressing – the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas — from the ideology behind the remarks.

Muslims do not need to prove that they are not terrorists, but when addressing CAIR and mentioning the 9/11 attacks, a patriotic Muslim should acknowledge the ideology behind such attacks and condemn it.

For her part, Omar is a cosponsor of the bipartisan effort to permanently authorize the 9/11 victims compensation fund. This does not make her remarks any better, but it is important to note that this Muslim congresswoman has joined a concrete effort to help 9/11 victims.

Both sides need to take a step back on this. President Trump is not inciting violence or hate against Omar. At the same time, Omar herself has shown that she cares about 9/11 victims, even if she hesitated to describe the terrorist attacks or admit the Islamic inspiration behind them. Americans need to listen to one another on this. Republicans have a legitimate concern that the radical Islamic ideology behind such attacks is not being taken seriously, and Democrats have a legitimate concern that Muslims as a whole should not be demonized.

Omar’s original remarks warned that peaceful Muslims were demonized after the 9/11 attacks, and that is a legitimate concern. However, she did need to acknowledge the heinous nature of those attacks and the radical Islamic inspiration behind it, so criticism of those remarks is justified.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.