Donald Trump’s attack on Rep. Ilhan Omar is an open celebration of bigotry and hate

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PBS NewsHour / YouTube What the firestorm over Rep Omar 1555160936.jpg...
PBS NewsHour / YouTube

When the New York Post ran a headline on Thursday insinuating that freshman Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar had diminished the importance of events on 9/11 it was disgusting—but about what can be expected from a tabloid paper whose notions of journalistic integrity lie somewhere on the other side of the National Enquirer. The Post cover, pairing an out of context sentence from Omar with a gut punch image of the twin towers was emotionally manipulative and brutally disgusting.

Then Donald Trump embraced it. Trump not only put a slickly edited video on his Twitter feed, but pinning it to the top of his feed, clearly signalling that this is the most important message he wants to send the nation.

With sad irony, both the Post article and the Trump tweet are perfect examples of the point that Representative Omar made in the original speech—there is a group of Americans who are not just willing to accept that all Muslims are responsible for the act of a tiny few, but eager to stir hatred. It is not Representative Omar who is trivializing 9/11, it is Trump. By turning that event into a partisan call to hate, he is dishonoring everyone who died, and everyone who suffered, and everyone who fought.

There is no way to interpret Donald Trump’s action but as a call to violence—an invitation to hate, and hurt, not just an American congresswoman, but a whole community of American citizens. It’s not just disheartening and disgusting, it is also dangerous. Trump is not only inviting harm on Omar, but giving permission for the othering and injuring of millions of Americans. This action is beyond the pale, across any line, and should be unacceptable in any society.

If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them — Karl Popper

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