Watch Ilhan Omar for any length of time, and you’ll find her smiley, soft-spoken, with a fine measure of understated determination. At least that’s a reasonable person’s takeaway.
Yet “reasonable” and “conservatism” are not often used in the same sentence these days. Especially when the subject is Muslim. And a woman. And about to represent the fair city of Minneapolis in the hallowed halls of Congress.
Scramble these few facts together, and her very being can be reduced to one word: Dastardly.
In two months, Omar will become the first Muslim woman – along with Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib – to enter Congress. Though she has yet to even set her sails, conspiracies and falsehoods are already being attached to her name.
The latest is a most diabolical plot blazing across Facebook and Twitter. It shows a photo of Omar, accompanied by her purported quote: “I think all white men should be put in chains as slaves because they will never submit to Islam.”
Forget, for a moment, that she never actually said this. Or the folly of a predominantly white district giving 78 percent of its vote to someone who holds these beliefs. Or the probability of a diminutive woman from Minneapolis enslaving 77 percent of the U.S. population.
These are days where a good chunk of the conservative base doesn’t bother with such trifling matters as research and logic. The great patriots, a rather gullible sort, are ready to believe.
“Bring it bitch,” wrote the fearless R Wolfe (@WhoWolfe).
“Won’t be hard to take out a jihadi swines,” added the manly @kevin587107. “Bring it on terrorist.”
As Omar prepares to assume office in January, this is what she will face. Fortunately, the Minnesota Republican Party has prepared her for the coming deluge of weirdness. Think of it as her unofficial personal trainer, working her through the latest and greatest anti-Muslim tropes, so she won’t be caught unaware when she takes the big stage.
She can thank U.S. Senate candidate Jim Newberger, who called for a freeze on admitting refugees. Without one, he believed, Minnesota would come to be ruled by Sharia Law, and whites would be barred from Muslim “no-go” zones.
Her gratitude should also extend to gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson, who called refugees burdens to our cities and schools. Never mind that whites collect most of the welfare in this state. (Or that our biggest single welfare queen is none other than… the Minnesota Vikings.)
Let us not forget state Representatives Kathy Lohmer (R-Stillwater) and Cindy Pugh (R-Chanhassen), who trafficked in claims that Muslims were trying to “infiltrate” the GOP caucuses.
Or Republican caucus-goers in Coon Rapids, who entertained a resolution to “eliminate the inﬂuence of Islam within the Minnesota Republican Party.”
Meanwhile, a recent study noted the party’s anti-Muslim propaganda arm –the Center of the American Experiment – contains board members from the likes of General Mills, Comcast, Dorsey & Whitney, and Global Access Capital. Yes, executives from our most prestigious companies have contributed to the cause.
So go forth, Ilhan, and face the blizzard of slurs, half-wittery, and shouts from people still struggling to take command of English as their first language. We hope we trained you well. And if you ever need a refresher course, your friends back home will be happy to provide it.