Minnesota Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar should be an object lesson in the inherent promise of America.
In 1990s, the now-Rep. Omar’s family left war-torn Somalia for the United States, finally settling in the Minneapolis area in 1995 when Omar was 12, according to The Washington Post. Omar went to North Dakota State University, a state school funded by taxpayer money.
She now makes $174,000 a year as a representative and is one of the most powerful women in America, influencing the agenda in America’s ascendant progressive movement.
In any ordinary sense, she should be a success story — a sign our nation still functions as a beacon for legal immigrants around the world, including refugees. She’s proof the American system works. And she wants to tear it all down.
On Tuesday, Omar was part of a news conference by the Minnesota Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous Caucus, a group she helped found when she was in the state legislature.
To the extent the event was reported on (which wasn’t widely), there were charged-if-harmless remarks like this one about the president and Republicans not taking up a Democrat-written criminal justice reform bill from the U.S. House:
“I guess the president would rather attack the people who are protesting than actually address the issues that people are out here protesting for,” Omar said. “And as my colleagues here will tell you, we are seeing the same here in Minnesota.”
That was from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, which covered the event as local news. There’s obviously some importance to the local angle for the newspaper, considering Minneapolis was the site of the May 25 death of George Floyd in police custody. Of national import were her remarks at the beginning of the speech, however.
In her opening remarks, Omar said our endemic racism meant America as we know it needed to be dismantled:
“We can’t stop at criminal justice reform or policing reform for that matter,” Omar said.
“We are not merely fighting to tear down the systems of oppression in the criminal justice system, we are fighting to tear down systems of oppression that exists in housing, in education, in health care, in employment, in the air we breathe.
“In America today, white families have 42 times more wealth than black families,” she continued. “When we say housing is a human right, we need to guarantee homes for all. When we are speaking to the fact that home ownership rates are nearly twice as high for white families as they are for black families. Here in Minnesota it’s tripled and people of color are more likely to face eviction and homelessness.”
Omar went on to condemn “environmental racism,” including the idea that people of color have closer “proximity to power plants and factories, higher exposure to emission from polluting, the disproportionate harm that disasters like Hurricane Katrina cost black communities, even access to basics like clean water” and that they “are bearing the brunt of that environmental catastrophe.”
Health care? Racist.
Inequalities in employment and unemployment? Also racist.
“I see the pain and havoc [the coronavirus is] wrecking on black communities in Minneapolis. We must recognize that these systems of oppression are linked,” she said.
“As long as our economy and political systems prioritize profit without considering who is profiting, who is being shut out, we will perpetuate this inequality. So we cannot stop at criminal justice system. We must begin the work of dismantling the whole system of oppression wherever we find it.”
Pack up the tents and shut off the lights. The show’s over, United States. You’re nothing more than a system of oppression — as presumably every other government on Earth is, since inequalities of group outcome exist in pretty much every society on our benighted, oppressed planet.
This news conference, by the way, was an attempt to focus attention on the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s attempt at enacting police reform legislation, something that’s stalled because state Republicans aren’t talking with them.
“Until we get that meaningful dialogue, I’m not sure how we can get things done,” said Sen. Jeff Hayden, a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, according to the Star-Tribune.
There’s nothing that says “meaningful dialogue” with the other side than a news conference in which your marquee speaker says that she wants to “begin the work of dismantling the whole system of oppression wherever we find it.”
Ilhan Omar is all about being in the business of Ilhan Omar, though, and Tuesday’s event made the right kind of headlines for her. It’s a good counterbalance to the headlines about how her campaign paid the consulting firm man who would become her third husband, Tim Mynett, $878,000 for his services, according to the New York Post. A whopping $189,000 of this came in March after the two announced they were husband and wife.
This goes mostly unchallenged by the media, mind you. It’s good to be Rep. Ilhan Omar — inspiring story and powerful politico.
I’d be curious to hear how all of this fits into the systems of oppression endemic to the country that opened the door when her family was fleeing war and privation.