Though still only a freshman member of Congress, Democrat Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar has emerged as a prominent and polarizing figure on the left in large part because of the divisive and outrageous commentary in which she regularly engages.
Omar seems to relish both the pushback as well as the praise she has received, and in a recent interview she proudly labeled herself as President Donald Trump’s “biggest nemesis.”
Omar: “Clearly, I am a nightmare”
On Monday, Omar tweeted her belief that Trump is nothing more than an anti-Muslim bigot who feels threatened by her presence in the legislature.
Those words and their underlying sentiments were echoed in the article Omar linked to in the tweet, a lengthy and flattering profile piece published by the Huffington Post.
Strong and independent or marginalized and oppressed?
The article followed Omar as she met and spoke with constituents in her home district during a congressional recess.
Much like Omar does herself, depending upon the circumstance, the article seemed to alternate between portraying the congresswoman as a strong and independent woman who will not be silenced by anybody and as a poor and oppressed minority refugee who simply seeks an opportunity to be heard.
The article highlighted the death threats and negativity Omar has received since being elected to Congress in 2018, while glossing over the full weight of the divisive rhetoric and controversial positions that have inspired her critics.
Identity politics forever
With regard to President Trump, Omar told HuffPo, “This is a president who has come to power because he was very much willing to vilify and demonize immigrants and refugees. He so proudly said we should halt Muslims from entering our country. He clearly has a disdain for black women who see themselves as equal to him.”
“And so, for many people, it’s not a surprise that he finds his biggest nemesis in me,” Omar said. “Clearly, I am a nightmare — because he can’t stop really thinking about ways that he can continue to use my identity to marginalize our communities.”
The problem with her analysis is that President Trump really hasn’t focused on Omar’s identity, and save for a handful of references to her anti-Semitic and anti-American remarks — such as downplaying the 9/11 terrorist attacks — hasn’t paid her nearly as much attention as she has paid him.
Furthermore, it is Omar who incessantly highlights and promotes her own various identities as a way to appeal to members of marginalized groups, only to then call foul and play the victim if and when those identities are mentioned by her critics.
But that gambit will only work for so long, and Omar needs to realize that when you take swings against the people at the top, they are almost certain to hit back.