Ilhan Omar Discussed 'Dismantling Patriarchy' After Trip to Honduras With Radical Group

Omar vowed to 'continue their fight on American soil'

Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar / Getty Images
February 25, 2019

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) talked of "dismantling patriarchy" after she returned from a trip to Honduras sponsored by a radical anti-American group.

Omar attended a delegation to the Latin American country in 2017 organized by Witness for Peace, a group affiliated with numerous activists against America, Israel, democracy, and capitalism.

After she returned that December she participated in a Witness for Peace event recapping the trip, where she discussed her "intersectional feminism."

Omar praised leftist activists who were creative in their work "dismantling patriarchy" in Honduras, and vowed to "continue their fight on American soil."

"I went as part of a Witness for Peace Midwest delegation, I helped lead an all-female delegation to Honduras," Omar said at a press conference in March 2018 in the Minnesota state House, where she introduced her legislation to end U.S. military aid to Honduras, a position shared by the radical group Code Pink.

Omar said she traveled with Witness for Peace for over two weeks, coinciding with the Honduras elections in the fall of 2017, which she called "illegal."

The Trump administration recognized the election of Juan Orlando Hernández, an ally to the United States who sided with America at the United Nations by standing against an anti-Israel resolution that condemned the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Omar has repeatedly made anti-Semitic remarks on social media, including calling the only democracy in the Middle East "evil," and said Israel "hypnotized the world."

Witness for Peace also has numerous members of its board that have expressed hostility towards Israel, including accusing Israel of inflicting "institutionalized racism that equates to modern day apartheid," and another who was recognized as a "Gaza donor" who supported sanctions against Israel. Another board member has ties to a group founded by a Palestinian activist who called for the "eradication of Israel."

Witness for Peace supported Manuel Zelaya, the leftist president of Honduras who was an ally of socialist Hugo Chávez. Zelaya was ousted by a military coup after he tried to change the country's constitution and remove term limits on his presidency. Before he was removed, many in Honduras feared Zelaya wanted to "introduce Mr. Chávez's brand of socialist populism" into the country.

Witness for Peace has denounced attempts to roll back Zelaya's liberal policies, including raising the minimum wage, and attempts to "privatize public resources such as rivers for dam projects." The group accused the Honduran "business elite" of instigating the military coup and being "intimately tied to U.S. and transnational corporate interests."

Witness for Peace now works with "black and indigenous organizations, journalists, feminist organizations, labor unions, lawyers, and community organizers," in trying to end U.S. aid to the country.

Omar praised these activists during a Witness for Peace event on the delegation, a video of which was posted to Facebook in December 2017.

Omar said during the trip she learned about "systems that exploit and oppress people and how they were all connected to the kind of resources and assistance our government was providing Honduras."

"I was intrigued by the idea of practicing my intersectional feminism in that kind of way, and learning about the human rights struggle, the struggle for the human rights that's happening in Honduras," she said. "What I didn't prepare for, and what I got when I was there was just to see the brilliance, the creativity, the resilience, and the tenacity, and the sassiness of these women so fearlessly and boldly led the groups that were in the forefront of the social movement and the movement to guarantee human rights in Honduras."

While she spoke a slideshow played behind her, which included a picture of former representative Keith Ellison, who Omar replaced in Congress. Ellison is pictured taking notes while in a meeting, which is captioned "Witness for Peace Midwest."

Omar also discussed one of her last nights in Honduras, where she spoke with a Honduras journalist named Melissa about misogyny, and "dismantling patriarchy."

"I was proud," she said. "I know all of you would have been proud. And, and I remember coming back to the hotel, you know, just, I didn't want to do anything. I didn't—because they [the U.S. embassy] didn't seem to get it."

Omar said Melissa shared "her hopes and dreams and the work that was getting done and the challenges."

"And we talked about what misogyny meant to her and the work that they're doing and how they're going about creatively in dismantling patriarchy and the kind of challenges that they face about race, about identity, about country, patriotism," Omar said. "About development, versus preservation of the things that you love."

Omar said she asked Melissa "how do you continue to find joy and why aren't you afraid?"

Melissa, according to Omar, replied: "I am not afraid because death has always surrounded me and I know that some day I will also die, but what I know to be true is that we have to live a life that is worth living. And I don't know anything but struggle. So to all of you who speak of privilege, look at us and say why would you challenge yourself this way, to risk your life this way? I don't know anything but risk. I have nothing else to look forward to. All I know is to fight, and in that fight is where I find joy."

Omar said she was "forever changed" by the trip, and vowed to "continue their fight on American soil."

"And so, for me, I am forever changed by that because I know that here, we had made a promise to them that we will continue their fight on American soil," Omar said. "And, and we will assure [sic] and make sure that they continue to have joy in knowing that there are other people fighting alongside them, for them, and with them."

Omar has called for the "dismantling" of the patriarchy and capitalism before. She also describes herself as an "intersectional feminist" on her Twitter account, which used to read, "intersectional feminist, mom, part-time social justice crusader, [and] full-time political junkie."

Other speakers at the event discussed "privilege," opposing the United States, and "fighting large corporations."

Another woman, who did not identify herself, said her "own country was destroyed by U.S. foreign policy and colonialism and imperialism."

"But there was something that one of the elders said on the first night that kind of summed it up and made it all worth it for me," the Witness for Peace delegation member said. "She said, 'I need you to continue on your struggle so that we can continue on in ours.' Hearing her say that made me see that I need to hold that privilege and use it for good, and push other people who hold other privileges outside of me, like, people who are white, who are this, who are men, people who don't come from the oppression that I come from, hold them up to a bigger standard, and not feel uncomfortable doing so."

Another speaker, named Bethany, who said she was a student at Oxford University, accused the United States of human rights abuses in Honduras.

"It's our responsibility to do something about our government's role in human rights abuses," Bethany said. "And so it is our responsibility to do something. But also we have to remember how much it's not about us and how much it's about people who have been as Ilhan said, struggling with this their whole lives and surrounded by the struggle."

Bethany said the Honduran woman Melissa told the group, "Adelante! Adelante! La lucha es constante," when they left, which she translated as, "Forward! Forward! The struggle is constant forever."

"What Ilhan is saying, for sure," she said.

Published under: Ilhan Omar