Democratic and Republican lawmakers condemn Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 comments

A bipartisan pair of freshman lawmakers, who were wounded in Afghanistan, criticized Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar for her previous remarks regarding the 9/11 attacks.

Omar’s controversial remarks stem from a speech at the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Los Angeles last month, where she spoke about Islamophobia following the 9/11 attacks. Omar, like many other civil rights groups, highlighted the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment across the US.

“Here’s the truth. Far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen,” Omar said. “And frankly, I’m tired of it. And every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it.”

Omar’s critics took issue with her following statement that has since gone viral on social media: “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

CAIR was founded in 1994, seven years before the 9/11 attacks. A spokesperson for the congresswoman told The Washington Post that Omar misspoke; CAIR doubled in size after the attacks.

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Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas.
Susan Walsh/AP

Critics like Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, a retired Navy SEAL, described Omar’s characterization of the 9/11 terrorists as insufficient and accused her of diminishing the atrocities of the attacks. Crenshaw deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and sustained injuries from an improvised explosive device.

“It’s terrorists who killed almost 3,000 Americans,” Crenshaw said in an MSNBC interview on Friday. “And we should talk about it that way. We should talk about it with deference.”

Crenshaw disagreed with Omar’s defenders who claimed her remarks were taken out of context: “I think every one should just look at the clip and decide for themselves. And I don’t think it’s out of line to simply call that out and criticize it.”

Democratic Rep. Max Rose of New York, a retired US Army soldier, also disagreed with Omar’s remarks. Rose deployed to Afghanistan and received injuries after an explosive device hit his vehicle in 2013.

“[September 11] is in the news these days,” Rose said during an interview with Fox News on Friday. “My colleague said something very recently that was insensitive.”

Rose made a distinction between Omar’s controversial remark and the broader issues surrounding Islamophobia. In statement last month, Rose condemned the “disgusting displays of Islamophobia” and “all forms of hateful rhetoric and bigotry.”

“Let’s be very clear about this: This is insensitive, and it’s offensive,” Rose said on Fox News. “On 9/11, radical terrorists attacked us. New York City lost thousands of people. My district, Staten Island and South Brooklyn, lost hundreds of cops, firemen, and first responders. More than any other district in America. There’s a lot of pain right now in memory of 9/11. That pain isn’t going anywhere.”

Omar, a Muslim woman, has received death threats and fierce backlash for her previous controversial remarks. On Wednesday, she described some of the response as “dangerous incitement.”

“My love and commitment to our country and that of my colleagues should never be in question,” she said on Twitter. “We are ALL Americans!”

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