Omar: Criticism of Tlaib Part of Efforts to 'Eliminate the Public Voice of Muslims'

May 15, 2019

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) said criticisms of Rep. Rashida Tlaib's (D., Mich.) recent remarks about Palestinian Arabs and the Holocaust were part of efforts to "eliminate the public voice of Muslims from the public discourse."

MSNBC host Chris Hayes introduced his interview of Omar Tuesday night by complaining Republicans were in a "sustained round of bad-faith attacks" against Tlaib, who said last week that she was calmed by the fact that Arabs provided a safe haven for Jews after the Holocaust and simultaneously mourned that this was forced on them. The statement was historically inaccurate:

"There's always kind of a calming feeling, I tell folks, when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors—Palestinians—who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people's passports," said Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress. "And, just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time. And, I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways, but they did it in a way that took their human dignity away and it was forced on them."

Due to Republican criticism of Omar and Tlaib, however, liberal media allies have quickly leapt to their defense and focused on debunking the notion that Tlaib was saying she was calmed by the Holocaust. Hosts like Hayes and Seth Meyers have not focused on the inaccuracy of her comments and Tlaib's ignoring of Arab efforts to destroy Israel and alliances with Nazi Germany's efforts to exterminate the Jewish people.

Omar, no stranger to repeated controversies involving anti-Semitic or inaccurate comments about Israel and Jews, said she and Tlaib had the strength to "endure any of the mischaracterization" or efforts to vilify their message.

"I tell my sister, Rashida Tlaib, that her and I have the strength to endure any of the mischaracterization or efforts to distort and vilify and mischaracterize our message," she said. "I think we are seeing what happens when people really see these kind of attacks for what they are. It is designed to silence, sideline, and almost eliminate [the] public voice of Muslims from the public discourse. I'm really excited that we have an opportunity to build alliances and push back and fight this attempt to marginalize our community's voice."

Tlaib and Omar often complain about efforts to "silence" them, although they are frequent guests on cable news outlets with millions of viewers and have large social media followings. The first two Muslim women in Congress are strong allies and have publicly backed each other during their myriad controversies in office; Tlaib became emotional in an MSNBC interview after Omar drew heat for referring to the September 11 attacks as "some people" doing "something."

Tlaib told a sycophantic Meyers on Monday that she listened to advice that "racist idiots" would continue to distort her words unless she spoke at a fourth-grade level.