Ilhan Omar Gets Death Threats & Trump Responds By Drawing Bigger Target On Her Back
Some scumbag was arrested Friday after he called the office of Rep. Ilhan Omar and threatened to kill her. Patrick W. Carlineo Jr. from upstate New York asked a staffer if they "worked for the Muslim Brotherhood." (They do not.) He accused Omar of being a "fucking terrorist" (she is not) and said he planned to put a "bullet in her fucking skull."
According to the affidavit, Carlineo politely spelled his name for Omar's office and provided his contact information. The FBI did in fact contact him. He originally claimed he'd only said that if "our forefathers were still alive, they'd put a bullet in her head." We've only listened to the cast recording of Hamilton, but we think they'd have just challenged her to a duel or at least wondered how one of their slaves got free. When reminded that lying to the FBI was a crime and that his phone call to Omar's office was recorded, he admitted that he was speaking less metaphorically.
Carlineo described himself as a "patriot" who loves the president and "hates radical Muslims in our government." He also doesn't believe Omar's election was "legitimate," because of course he doesn't. Trump may not be directly, legally responsible for his supporters' actions, but both he and the GOP have smeared and attacked the Minnesota congresswoman relentlessly since she took office. She's one of 67 freshman Democrats, but the Right has seized on some inappropriate comments she's made to paint her as the face of modern anti-Semitism. They've done so with no regard for her safety. Megs McCabe wept a flood of white tears over Omar's "very scary" words on "The View." Jeanine Pirro accused her of prioritizing Sharia law over the Constitution. A poster claiming that Omar's election proved we'd "forgotten" 9/11 showed up in the West Virginia Capitol.
The president of the United States did not condemn his fan club member's threat against Omar. Instead, just hours after Carlineo was arrested, Trump derided Omar again during his speech at the annual Republican Jewish Coalition convention (which was a shitshow even without it!).
TRUMP: Special thanks to Rep. Omar of Minnesota...
[Crowd boos mere mention of a sitting congresswoman's name.]
TRUMP: Oh, I almost forgot. She doesn't like Israel. I forgot. I'm so sorry!
Yes, Omar has criticized Israel, and if a politician criticizes a nation -- let's say Mexico, for example -- that means they explicitly hate both the country and everyone associated with it.
The divider in chief is cynically trying to drive a "wedge" between Jewish voters and the Democratic party. He is promoting a supposed "Jexodus" of Jews to the party of Steve King. Don't Jews have a claim of sorts to the term "exodus"? Do they really need Trump's half-assed portmanteau?
TRUMP: Democrats have even allowed the terrible scourge of anti-Semitism to take root in their party and in their country... Democrats are advancing by far the most extreme, anti-Semitic agenda in history.
Really? Trump can't think of a slightly more extreme anti-Semitic agenda in history? He can't just settle for ranking modern-day Democrats as a solid third or fourth?
Some recent examples of Omar's anti-Semitism are a bit of a stretch. Charlie Kirk and Arthur Schwartz claimed Omar's staff was overheard discussing how to get the bad "Jew Jew" out of her office, which used to belong to Lee Zeldin. Zeldin is Jewish, but it's a safe bet that Omar's staff was referring to bad "juju," as in "bad vibes" or something that someone would actually say. Maybe Omar should just ask a Jewish friend to stand behind Mark Meadows at all times. That definitively proved Trump wasn't a racist.
Back in reality, another "patriot" called in a bomb threat on Thursday to the California hotel hosting a fundraiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Omar was the featured speaker.
A police officer transcribed a voicemail left by the caller, who has not been identified: "What would you do if I told you your hotel was going to be bombed? That is exactly what's going to happen if you allow the likes of Ilhan Omar into your hotel. She is a danger to American society and your hotel. You are not to allow her foot into there if you value your own safety. Do not allow her in there. Cancel the event."
The vile attacks will only escalate because they are tacitly encouraged. We can expect to see the GOP use Omar as a cudgel against Democrats in 2020, perhaps even hoping they can scare enough people to flip Minnesota, where Clinton beat Trump by just a percentage point. Omar has a 16-year-old daughter who can read the news and fear for her mother's well being. On Twitter, Omar asked the Lord to "forgive" Trump. That is perhaps the only one who could.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.