US Representative Ilhan Omar has received an outpouring of support on social media after yet another set of racist attacks against her enabled and encouraged by President Donald Trump.
Earlier this week, Trump went on a racist Twitter rant attacking four Democratic Congresswomen and telling them to “go back” to their own countries. The next day he reiterated his comments and claimed that the representatives “made Israel feel abandoned by the US”.
His attacks have been widely criticised, with UK Prime Minister Theresa May calling his language “absolutely unacceptable” and the US House of Representatives voting to condemn his tweets.
Just yesterday, at a Trump rally in North Carolina, he doubled down on his racist attacks on the Congresswomen by saying, “If they don’t love it [the US], tell them to leave it.” He also attacked the Congresswomen individually. When he attacked Omar for supposedly “launching viciously anti-Semitic screeds [speeches]”, the crowd began chanting, “Send her back!”
This chant was met by widespread criticism on social media. Jon Favreau, former speechwriter for President Barack Obama and host of political podcast Pod Save America, expressed his horror at Trump’s rhetoric and the subsequent response from the crowd:
Presidential candidate and former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke emphasised the severity of these chants and that they “don’t happen by accident”.
These chants don’t happen by accident. They are the product of a president who sees our diversity not as a strength, but as a weakness. I believe in our country. And I believe, together, not allowing our differences to divide us, we will defeat him and everything he stands for. https://t.co/RKZ6PTQM4g
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) July 18, 2019
In response to the chants, Omar quoted a poem by US poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, “You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
-Maya Angelou https://t.co/46jcXSXF0B
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 18, 2019
This racist chant prompted a wave of support on social media for Omar. American rapper Cardi B posted a photo of Omar on her Instagram and captioned it that “you know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation,” a lyric from Beyonce’s song “Formation”.
Others supported her using the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, both 2020 presidential hopefuls, showed their support with the hashtag.
#IStandWithIlhan and am proud to work with her in Congress.
Trump is stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society. And that very hatred and racism fuels him. We must fight together to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of our country.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 18, 2019
Trump knows that when we stand together and fight for racial, social, economic and environmental justice, we have the power to defeat him.
So the demagogue is doing what he knows best: Divide and conquer through hate.
His attacks only make us stronger. #IStandWithIlhan
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 18, 2019
A tweet. Then a chant. And it won’t stop there.
Trump is fueling and feeding off hate. Racism and Islamophobia are stains on humanity and on our country.
We stand with @IlhanMN.
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) July 18, 2019
Youth gun safety activist David Hogg expressed his admiration for Omar and acknowledged America’s “hateful and violent past” but was happy that many were standing in solidarity against such hate.
.@IlhanMN s strength and courage in the face of so much hate and Islamaphobia is truly inspiring.
It’s sad that America still has yet to learn from its hateful and violent past but I’m happy to see many of us standing united with her against hate. #IStandWithIlhan
— David Hogg 🟧 (@davidhogg111) April 13, 2019
Pastor and activist Bishop Talbert Swan also referenced America’s history of violently discriminating against minorities, even to this day, as evidenced by the “kids in cages”.
Y’all murdered Native Americans because of identity
Y’all enslaved Africans because of identity
Y’all segregated, lynched, murdered, and dehumanized Blacks because of identity
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) July 18, 2019
One Twitter user looked to Omar’s record of sponsoring bills such as the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Bill, which would reauthorise funding for the health care needs of 9/11 first responders, in defending her against baseless allegations of her being “anti-American”.
Ilhan Omar co-sponsored the 9/11 victims compensation bill, and Rand Paul blocked it in the senate. Which one am I supposed to believe is the patriotic one? #IStandWithIlhan
— anyangel 💙🐈⬛🐈⬛💙🌻🌊🌊🌊❤🧡💛💚💙💜🏳️⚧️ (@dancingonapin) July 18, 2019
Another Twitter user highlighted the irony of Trump’s anti-immigrant statements since his own wife, Melania, is a Slovenian immigrant who became naturalised in 2006.
Crowd at Trump rally: "Send her back! Send her back!"
— Supreme Hakim 🇱🇧 (@SupremeHakim17) July 18, 2019
This is not the first time that the hashtag has trended. In March, Omar was attacked over her comments about the influence of the powerful Israeli lobby known as AIPAC, American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Many took to social media to show their support, including presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris. Many American Jews also signed an open letter in support of Omar.
Omar, for her own part, has not let racist comments affect her work. She tweeted a picture of her presiding over the House of Representative and said, “I am where I belong, at the people’s house and you’re just gonna have to deal!”
👋🏽 I am where I belong, at the people’s house and you’re just gonna have to deal! pic.twitter.com/W0OvDXGxQX
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 18, 2019
She, along with Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib and civil rights activist John Lewis, introduced a resolution in the House to affirm the American right to boycott. The resolution doesn’t specifically refer to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and is heralded by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as a “ground-breaking resolution” that defends “freedom of expression and the right of oppressed communities… to peacefully fight for their rights.”
The BDS movement for Palestinian rights warmly welcomes the resolution introduced by Congress members Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and US civil rights veteran John Lewis "Affirming that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights.” pic.twitter.com/G1ZDpRjgwd
— BDS movement (@BDSmovement) July 17, 2019