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Ilhan Omar Defended by Media and Fact Checkers

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

As if Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) hasn’t already said enough controversial things, a new video surfaced this week of an old interview with her on Al Jazeera. 

In the clip, Al Jazeera asks her about attacks in the U.S. by Islamic terrorists. Omar responds: “I would say our country should be more fearful of white men across our country because they are actually causing most of the deaths within this country… we should be profiling, monitoring, and creating policies to fight the radicalization of white men.”


The video’s release coincided with Omar‘s op-ed in the New York Times, in which she ironically attacks President Trump for using “overtly racist rhetoric.” She claims: “The president of the United States is using the influence of our highest office to mount racist attacks on communities across the land.” In the video, when she is asked if Trump is a racist, she says: “I think that there isn’t a debate about whether Trump is racist.”

The media and left-wing fact-checkers quickly came to Omar’s defense, saying that Omar’s quote was taken out of context and being distorted. “She’s pointing out a double standard: Terrorism committed by white men has killed more Americans in recent years than terrorism committed by Islamist extremists, but many people continue to focus on the threat posed by Muslims as a group,” explained. Snopes claims: “she was making the point that the Muslim community is targeted by anti-terror policies even though white, right-wing extremist men have committed the vast majority of acts of deadly domestic terrorism in recent years.” Politifact defended her by writing: “data from multiple sources suggest extremist attacks associated with white nationalism and far-right ideology is on the rise.”

But Omar’s claims are all incredibly misleading.


There’s a reason why Middle Easterners are profiled more than whites: they commit attacks at a much higher rate. Whites are by far the largest ethnic group in the U.S., so it's not surprising that whites commit the most crimes. But the probability of a Middle Eastern individual carrying out an attack is higher than for a white individual, so it is understandable that police single out the former group for extra scrutiny.

The Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) collected data on the race and ideology (political and religious) of mass public shooters. since 1998, most of these killers have indeed been white (58%), but this is smaller than the white share of the U.S. population (64%, as of 2015). Middle Easterners are by far the most overrepresented among mass public shooters, given that they represent about 1% of the U.S. population and 8% of mass public shooters. Blacks, Asians, and American Indians are also overrepresented. Hispanics are the most underrepresented, committing attacks at a rate that is little more than a third of their share of the population.

If a mass public shooter is a racist, the media identifies him as a “right-winger.” The New Zealand mosque shooter is the most notorious recent example in which the attacker was branded as “right-wing.” 


The media just can’t accept that a socialist environmentalist can be a racist. Right-wingers don’t normally declare that “conservatism is dead” and that “global capitalist markets are the enemy of racial autonomists.” Nor that, “The nation with the closest political and social values to my own is the [communist] People’s Republic of China.”

According to the CPRC’s sample of U.S. killers, 72% had no known political leaning. The remainder was comprised of Islamic extremists (10%), conservatives or Republicans (3%), liberals or Democrats (3%), “right-wingers” (3%), and left-wingers (1%). The last 8% consists of other groups that each account for no more than 1% of shooters. Similarly, few attackers were religious: 68% had no apparent religion, 10% were Muslim, 6% were Christian, and 3% were anti-Christian.

Adding in vehicle attacks with four or more fatalities, Muslims’ share of attacks in the U.S. rises slightly to 11%. With Muslims making up 1.1% of the US population, they commit attacks at much higher rates than other groups.

Other inconvenient facts are also ignored. Even classifying racists as right-wingers still show more Americans have been killed by Jihadists than far right-wingers.

In order to falsely call the president a racist, Omar, and other Democrats keep distorting and taking out of context Trump’s tweets and statements. While Omar’s New York Times piece focuses on the part of a tweet where Trump suggests that she and other congresswomen leave the country, the rest of Trump’s comments are left out: “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.”


Trump didn’t tell Omar to leave permanently. Rather, he welcomed her to come back to the U.S. and teach us what she had learned.

Omar claims that “this president tacitly accepted” anti-Semitic chants by white supremacists at the Charlottesville rally in 2017.

But let’s take a look at Trump’s full exchange with a reporter a couple of days after the Charlottesville riots.

TRUMP: Excuse me, they didn’t put themselves down as neo-Nazis, and you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. . . . I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally – but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats – you had a lot of bad people in the other group too.  

REPORTER: I just didn’t understand what you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly?  

TRUMP: No, no. There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly, the taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee. . . .


Racism must be condemned. But Omar should look in the mirror when she condemns racism. The media themselves deserve condemnation for their willingness in distorting how profiling works.

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