Ilhan Omar: The sound of silence

Following her victory over 22-term incumbent Minnesota state Rep. Phyllis Kahn in Minnesota in the August 9 primary, Ilhan Omar emerged as the Democratic Party’s hot new thing. The Star Tribune touted her victory under a huge banner headline. Two follow-up stories analyzed the sources of Omar’s not particularly surprising success in a district whose demographics have markedly shifted toward the Somali community.

At the end of that week we raised the question whether Omar was married to two men — one her advertised husband and the father of her children (hereinafter “husband number 1”), the other her brother (hereinafter “husband number 2”). We expressly asked Omar campaign officials whether the second marriage had been entered into for dishonest purposes.

The Omar campaign responded to our inquiries through a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney. The campaign declined to provide a substantive response to our inquiries. Rather, it implied that the questions were bigoted.

When the Star Tribune and other local media followed up, Democratic pro Ben Goldfarb was airdropped into the campaign for a day or two to implement best Democratic scandal management practices. The following Wednesday, the campaign issued a statement characterizing the gist of our questions “false and ridiculous.”

The campaign declined to produce Omar or husband number 1 — the father of her children, the celebrated “love of [her] life” — for an interview on the subject. Omar has declined interview requests from every local media outlet doing its own reporting on the story. We noted several questions that Omar’s statement left unanswered here. Omar and her campaign have declared the subject closed for discussion.

You got a problem with that? I do.

The local media have left the story there so far. At Alpha News, however, Preya Samsundar has advanced the story through analysis of social media and email correspondence with husband number 2.

I posted an account of my meeting with a local Somali source who told me under a promise of confidentiality that he knew husband number 2 to be Omar’s brother in “Ilhan Omar stonewalls.” Samsundar infers that husband number 2 is indeed Omar’s brother.

The sound of silence envelops the local media. It also envelops the Somali community.

We can make a reasonable guess why the local media would prefer not to pursue this story, but why is the Somali community silent? Samsundar is one dogged reporter and she is back on the Omar beat to offer what may be a partial explanation in “A community forced into silence.”

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