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Mon Apr 15, 2019, 11:19 AM

Ilhan Omar's Deeply American Message

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/ilhan-omars-deeply-american-message-to-cair/587131/


Ilhan Omar’s Deeply American Message
The Minnesota lawmaker urged American Muslims to act like citizens, not guests. Other religious minorities should take note.
6:00 AM ET
Peter Beinart
Professor of journalism at the City University of New York


I watched Ilhan Omar’s recent address to the Council of American Islamic Relations for the same reason most people did: to see whether she had—as Donald Trump claimed—minimized the 9/11 terrorist attacks. What I found was unexpected. In offering a vision for how to live as an American Muslim, her speech to CAIR beautifully evoked what I treasure about being an American Jew.

snip//

Rather than living “with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen,” Omar argued, American Muslims should “raise hell, make people uncomfortable”—just as African Americans and other discriminated-against minorities have. In so doing, they would inspire others to rally to their cause, because “once you are willing to stand up for yourself … then others will show up for you.”

With political assertion, Omar suggested, comes the political responsibility to oppose injustice even among your own people. It’s sadly ironic that the only part of Omar’s speech many Americans have heard is her reference to the September 11 attacks as “some people did something.” Because, while Omar should have been more explicit in condemning 9/11 and warning about jihadist radicalization in the United States, she forcefully demanded that Muslims call one another to account. “It doesn’t matter if that country is being run by my father, my brother, my sister,” Omar declared in the last section of her speech. “I will criticize that country” if it is “violating basic human rights.”

From a Jewish perspective, this too is deeply familiar. Jews often warn against airing communal dirty laundry. If you want to criticize Israel, they say, do so only within the family. But this argument holds less weight among American Jews than within other diaspora communities. Why are American Jews more willing to criticize Israel? In part because they are more secure and thus believe they can do so without inflaming anti-Semitism. Omar was urging Muslims to act with the same self-confidence: If you don’t want to be treated like an outsider in America, don’t act like one.

Near the end of her speech, Omar explained that rather than keeping her religion private, as both Muslims and Jews are often expected to do in Europe, she expresses it openly as a way of affirming that, in America, she need not hide who she is to enter the public square. “I tweet out verses of the Koran,” Omar explained. “I say As-salaam alaikum and Alhamdulillah”—“Peace be unto you” and “All praise is due to God alone”—“because I want” Americans “to get comfortable” with “what they mean.”

Listening to those words, I remembered an August night in 2004 when, after the speeches were done, 50 or so delegates went to the floor of the Democratic National Committee to sit and read the Book of Lamentations, as Jews do on the holiday of Tisha B’Av. Ilhan Omar envisions an America in which Muslims can one day do something similar. And every Jew who cherishes the opportunity America has given us to be fully, proudly, and publicly ourselves should be cheering her on.

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babylonsister Monday OP
Scurrilous Monday #1
ck4829 Monday #2

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Mon Apr 15, 2019, 12:01 PM

1. K&R

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 12:01 PM

2. This is what needs to be said

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