I was invited to write this piece about Ilhan Omar during the trial of Mohamed Noor for a publication that was looking for something more current and less backward-looking. Pulling it out and rereading it this afternoon, I think it explains where we are now even though it fails to explore recent events. I was hoping for the editor’s help in improving it. Even without his help, however, it occurred to me that some readers might find it worthwhile. It certainly beats chewing over the Democrats’ utterly asinine citation of Attorney General Barr for contempt. Here it is:
Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Ilhan Omar was only elected to Congress this past November, yet she seems to be effecting the Corbynization of the Democratic Party. That’s quite an accomplishment for a first-term congressman of no distinction other than her heavily advertised Islamic faith. What are we to make of her?
I’ve been observing Omar since she defeated 22-term incumbent state representative Phyllis Kahn in 2016 for the Democratic nomination to represent the district including Minneapolis’s “Little Mogadishu.” Omar’s rise lies at the intersection of immigration and Islam that is transforming the Democratic Party and, therewith, the United States. At a campaign stop in Minneapolis just before the 2016 election on November 6, then-candidate Donald Trump delivered the message in Minneapolis that we “have seen firsthand the problems with faulty refugee vetting, with large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state, without your knowledge, without your support or approval.”
The 2016 election brought us Trump as president, of course, but it also brought Ilhan Omar to office. From her perch as a first-term Democratic member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Omar constituted little more than a political cipher. Yet she was already on her way to becoming an intergalactic superstar. I wrote about her in the City Journal columns ”The curious case Ilhan Omar” (September 9, 2016) and ”Ilhan Omar’s many firsts” (September 15, 2017).
In early 2018, documentary filmmaker Norah Shapiro celebrated Omar, declaring it was Time for Ilhan in the title of the movie telling the story of her rise to cipherhood in the Minnesota House. Yet Shapiro, of course, was on to something. It was time for Ilhan in more ways than one.
On June 5, 2018, then Fifth District Rep. Keith Ellison announced that he was standing down from his bid for reelection to run for Minnesota Attorney General. Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District is one of the most heavily Democratic in the country. Ellison’s withdrawal set off a race for the Fifth District nomination on the Democratic side that heavily favored Omar and she quickly declared her intention to succeed Ellison. She easily won the party’s endorsement at the special DFL Fifth District endorsing convention held on June 17 and faced down four Democratic opponents in the August 14 primary to determine the party’s nominee. The Democratic primary was the real Fifth District election; Omar skated to victory over her nominal opponents in November, only six months ago.
At the Fifth District Democrats’ Special Endorsing Convention in Minneapolis on June 17, 2018, I saw Omar nominated by a millennial constituency weighted toward “all that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking toward the smell of ‘progress’ like bluebottles to a dead cat,” as George Orwell described English socialists. The convention voters were thrilled by Omar’s occupation of the left-wing fringe of the Democratic Party.
Following Omar’s nomination at the Special Endorsing Convention, I publicized what I deduced to be Omar’s anti-Semitic views in the City Journal column ”A question for Democrats” (July 20, 2018). The question raised by Omar was whether her anti-Semitic views passed muster in the Democratic Party. I failed to elicit a response from the prominent Minnesota Democrats to whom I addressed the question. They all ducked. We have now seen the phenomenon replicated on a national scale. This is Ilhan Omar’s Democratic Party.
Despite its changing demographics, Minnesota’s Fifth District still includes a substantial Jewish population. Perhaps the most notable of the inner-ring suburbs is St. Louis Park, whose native sons include New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, former senator Al Franken, political scientist Norm Ornstein, Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel, filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, and singer/songwriter Peter Himmelman. Many of the district’s Jewish residents are active Democrats and Democratic voters; Omar’s views about Israel were of intense interest to them and other Democrats voting in the primary.
At the Beth El Synagogue DFL candidates’ forum on August 6, 2018, before a packed and heavily Jewish audience in St Louis Park — I was there — a week before the DFL primary, Omar obscured and denied her advocacy of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for precisely one night. Promptly following her election, she reiterated her long-standing support of BDS. Omar knows precisely what she is doing. She lies baldly and without conscience.
I try not to take her anti-Semitism personally. She also hates the United States. I think this explains what is otherwise one of the most inexplicable features of her persona: her rank ingratitude to the country that took her in as a refugee from an African hellhole. Despite the fact that Omar was welcomed to the United States as a teenager from a Kenyan refugee camp, she is a bottomless fount of grievances against the United States. She has expertly assimilated to American culture by adopting the mantle of the victim. She is a pure creature of identity/victim politics.
The red-green alliance embodied by Omar has both Israel and the United States in its sights. With the immigration spigot open and overflowing, Omar’s rise within the Democratic Party makes her look like nothing so much as the wave of the future.