Ilhan Omar: GOP response to calls for police reform 'was vicious'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarMehdi Hasan gets MSNBC Sunday prime-time show Six ways to visualize a divided America Jamaal Bowman's mother dies of COVID-19: 'I share her legacy with all of you' MORE (D-Minn.) penned a fiery new op-ed slamming Republicans for attacks on her recent comments on criminal justice reforms, calling for all people to “listen to those with backgrounds and circumstances other than our own.”

Omar in an op-ed published Wednesday by The Washington Post explained that she said in a news conference last week that “As long as our economic and political systems prioritize profit, without considering who is profiting and who is being shut out, we will perpetuate this inequality. So we cannot stop at the criminal justice system. We must begin the work of dismantling the whole system of oppression wherever we find it.”

Omar said in the Wednesday op-ed that she immediately faced accusations that she "had just called for getting rid of the entire U.S. economy and government.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“Instantly, Donald Trump Jr. and right-wing 'media outlets' were amplifying the false claim," she wrote. "That evening, Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonTucker Carlson bashes CNN, claims it's 'more destructive' than QAnon Former Trump officials eye bids for political office Jill Biden picks up where she left off MORE dedicated a segment of his Fox News program to attacking me and Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthSenate Democrats call on GAO to review child care access barriers for disabled parents, kids Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Lawmakers commemorate one-year anniversary of Arbery's killing MORE (D-Ill.), another prominent woman of color, under the banner, 'We Have to Fight to Preserve Our Nation & Heritage'."

Trump shared a clip from Omar's speech last week, tweeting “Does @joebiden agree with his supporter @ilhanmn that we need to dismantle the United States economy and political system?” 

Carlson last week on his Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” said "When vandals like Tammy Duckworth and Ilhan Omar tell us that we’re not allowed to question their patriotism, even as they scream about how horrible America is, we have every right to laugh in their faces, and we should,” The New York Times reported.

Omar said Wednesday that “it was something I’ve become accustomed to as a black Muslim woman in public life,” noting several of President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE’s criticisms against her. 

President Trump has previously shared video footage of remarks Omar gave last year at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The lawmaker said “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

However, her comment that “some people did something” has been a target of criticism from some GOP leaders and groups.

But she pushed back on the criticism, calling it a sign of weakness.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Such continued distortions are a sign of the president’s weakness among voters. We know his team wouldn’t be relying so heavily on racist distortions if it were confident in its policies’ popularity,” Omar shared Wednesday. 

“But it’s also something female leaders and leaders of color have dealt with for years. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMedia circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE’s every move was scrutinized from her earliest days as first lady of Arkansas; President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaArtist behind golden Trump statue at CPAC says he made it in Mexico Obama opens up about singing 'Amazing Grace' after Charleston shooting: 'I've used up all my words' Exclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren MORE was hounded by claims that he was Muslim and not born in the United States. Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith EllisonOfficials: Barr blocked officer plea deal in George Floyd death The one question about climate change only the courts can answer Minnesota bar vows to stay open despite lawsuit, ban on indoor dining MORE, the first Muslim member of Congress and my predecessor, was subject to an anti-Muslim smear campaign when he ran for Democratic Party chair,” she continued.

Omar added that “Fear of the 'other' — whether it is someone of a different country of origin, a different race or a different religion — stems, I believe, from the myth of scarcity.”

“This mentality pits minority groups against one another in a fight for scraps, and those who benefit from the status quo are happy to see us distracted and bickering. Particularly during a pandemic, we all can worry too much about what we lack — instead of seeing our futures as linked and interdependent,” Omar said.

The Minnesota lawmaker wrote that “We need to jettison the zero-sum idea that one person’s gain is another’s loss.” She added, “I want your gain to be my gain; your loss to be mine, too.” 

“The more we listen to those with backgrounds and circumstances other than our own, the more we can find parallels to our own experience," she concluded. "That’s why we cannot afford to be silent about systems of oppression. We can’t eradicate our problems unless we put ourselves in the shoes of others and craft solutions that work for all."