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Why Trump Attacking Ilhan Omar Is An Issue For All Women Of Color In Congress

by Gretchen Sterba

When Donald Trump posted a now-viral video on Twitter last Friday, intermixing Representative Ilhan Omar with the World Trade Towers ablaze, he blatantly created anti-Muslim propaganda.

In the video, Omar rightfully expresses the Islamophobia she has endured, as well as many Muslim Americans, since the 9/11 attacks.

“CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations] was founded after 9/11 because they recognize that some people did something,” Omar says in the video. Omar is cut off by shots of the Twin Towers burning and audio of frantic 911 calls in the background. The phrase, “Some people did something,” is repeated numerous times throughout the 43-second video. It ends with black smoke coming out of the Towers as they crumble; the words, “September 11, 2001, We Remember” across the screen.

Since the release of the video, Omar made a statement on Twitter Sunday evening in which she revealed that death threats against her have been relentless.

“Since the president’s tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life — many directly referencing or replying to the president’s video,” Omar said. “This is endangering lives. It has to stop.”

Coincidentally, Trump is arriving in Minnesota today, the state Omar represents, to hold an economic round table. Although where he’s visiting is outside of Omar’s congressional district, it seems like a designed choice to continue to stir the pot.

Not only does this hateful rhetoric Trump is spewing ring a bell (like during his 2016 campaign when he made false claims about watching “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheering in New Jersey after 9/11), but also we must talk about how Congress continues to marginalize and attempt to “shut up” women of color serving in Congress.

Along with Omar, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib have been under personal attack for being young, progressive women in a system that has been coated with white Republican men.

Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for women in Congress, particularly women of color in Congress, to be silenced, or criticized for being so “radical.” Even Nancy Pelosi, who we all know is no stranger to scrutiny, told POLITCO that these incoming Congresswomen have to do things “the right way[:] you don’t want to be condescending, but you also have to be courageous enough to say, ‘This is how we’re going to do this,’ in the right way.”

In a 2003 study — which may seem old, but it just goes to prove that times haven’t really changed — by political scientist Mary Hawkesworth, findings show that women in Congress are apart of a bias in which they are silenced, stereotyped, have enforced invisibility, excluded, and challenged of their authority.

Although the Left continues to endorse and celebrate our most diverse Congress in history, criticism of influential, badass women like Omar who continues to take a stand will probably not cease anytime soon. As long as there are women of color speaking their minds and going against the grain, white politicians will continue to slander all of them who refuse to keep their heads bowed.


Top photo: Wikimedia Commons


More from BUST:

Rep. Rashida Tlaib Of Michigan Is A Thobe-Wearing, Swearing Inspiration

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The 116th Congress Has More Women Than Ever Before

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