A CNN panel on Sunday’s “State of the Union” quickly divided over Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and comments she made about 9/11 during a recent speech.
During that speech, Omar had referenced the terror attacks as a backdrop to explain why she believed that Muslims were not afforded the same civil rights as other groups — but she noted the attack in the vague terms, saying only, “some people did something.” (RELATED: Rep. Ilhan Omar Describes 9/11 Terror Attacks: ‘Some People Did Something’)
WE WILL NEVER FORGET! pic.twitter.com/VxrGFRFeJM
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2019
Failed Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum was the first to weigh in on the video, and he was careful to place all the blame squarely on the president’s shoulders.
“I find the president’s comments to be deplorable and beneath the office of the presidency,” Gillum began. And while he admitted that Omar had become something of an “easy target,” he argued that the real problem was that Trump was a racist.
“This is about the fact that she looks a certain way, a woman of color, happens to be of Muslim faith,” he said. “The president is setting the groundwork for the kind of campaign he wants to run which is to turn Americans against Americans, turn black and brown people against his base.”
Linda Chavez, director of the Becoming American Initiative, argued that Omar probably should have chosen her words more carefully — and that, at least in this case, she may have handed the advantage to her critics.
“I think Representative Omar is the gift that keeps on giving to the Republican Party,” she said. “I think what she said was horribly insensitive. 3,000 of her fellow American citizens died on that day. For her to say something happened by somebody, it’s not — ‘somebody did something,’ it’s not the appropriate way to talk about one of the most tragic days in American history.”
Chavez concluded by saying, “I’m not going to defend President Trump on this, but neither am I going to defend Representative Omar.”
Scott Jennings, who served as a special assistant to former President George W. Bush, took it a step further and argued that the response to Omar’s comments and the backlash that followed them was indicative of a much larger problem.
“I think that they just skipped the debate,” Jennings said. “What she said was worthy of public debate … They don’t want to have a conversation about whether her idea is right. They want to have a conversation about those who dare criticize what she had to say.”
“This is the modern day authoritarian movement to banish people from speaking,” Jennings concluded.