In a speech at the Minnesota State House on Tuesday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) called for the “dismantling” of America’s “economy and political system” in an effort to root out “oppression.” She insisted that any wealth disparity between blacks and whites is the result of oppression and urged her fellow Democrats to “tear down systems of oppression” in various sectors of American society.
Omar began her remarks by attacking Minnesota Republicans for refusing to pass the Democrats’ radical criminal justice reform bill, and then moved on to other claims of “systemic racism.”
“We can’t stop at criminal justice reform or policing reform for that matter,” Omar said. “We are not merely fighting to tear down the systems of oppression in the criminal justice system, we are fighting to tear down systems of oppression that exist in housing, in education, in health care, in employment, in the air we breathe.”
“In America today, white families have 42 percent more wealth than black families,” she argued. “We are speaking to the fact that homeownership rates are nearly twice as high for white families than they are for black families.”
Omar also argued that “environmental racism is real,” claiming that black people suffer worse than white people when a natural disaster hits. She noted that the coronavirus pandemic has done more damage in the black community. “When America gets a cold, black communities get pneumonia,” she said. “Because I lost my own father to the coronavirus, I see the pain and the havoc it’s wrecking on black communities in Minneapolis.”
Then she delivered the telling lines about “dismantling” the “economic and political system” that is based on “profit.”
“We must recognize that these systems of oppression are linked,” Omar declared. “As long as our economy and political system prioritize profit without considering who is profiting, who is being shut out, we will perpetuate this inequality. So we cannot stop at criminal justice, we must begin the work of dismantling the whole system of oppression wherever we find it.”
The Republican National Committee (RNC) shared a video highlighting these remarks about “dismantling” the “economy and political system.”
Radio host Derek Hunter, noting the fact that Ilhan Omar grew up in Somalia before coming to the U.S., paraphrased Omar’s remarks this way: “We need to make America fair, like Somalia. There, everyone suffers equally.” “Somalia” started trending on Twitter.
“Liberals told me if I didn’t like big govt I should move to Somalia but their policies brought Somalia to the USA,” libertarian radio host Austin Peterson tweeted.
Jenna Ellis, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, tweeted, “How is this woman still in US government? This is contrary to her oath of office.”
While Ilhan Omar meant to call for the “dismantling” of “oppression” in order to achieve equal outcomes for people of all races, her remarks clearly suggested that the entirety of America’s economy and political system is oppressive merely because white people are, on average, more wealthy and insulated from various pathologies than black people are. Yet Asians are, on average, more wealthy than whites. Does this mean Asians have secretly created a “system of oppression?”
Americans need to condemn the radicalism Ilhan Omar represents, but we also need to mourn with her and listen to the pain in her words. It is tragic that black people are more likely to die of the coronavirus. It is tragic that crime rates are higher in black communities. No matter what you think of Ilhan Omar — and trust me, I share your low opinions — it is tragic that she lost her father to the coronavirus pandemic.
Radical statements like Omar’s call for the dismantling of America’s economy and political system are likely to inspire a powerful backlash against leftist agitators. Yet that backlash needs to be tempered with compassion. America is a fundamentally good country, with a system that enables liberty and prosperity and opportunity to a degree unprecedented in human history, but black Americans feel left behind for a reason.
Conservatives like Thomas Sowell have done an excellent job of parsing other potential explanations for racial disparities. President Donald Trump has rightly called school choice the civil rights issue of our time, as it helps foster opportunities for black students, in particular. The George Floyd protests have highlighted how many police departments protect bad actors, and criminal justice reform is essential. However, the riots that followed in the wake of the George Floyd protests have ravaged many black communities and the breakdown of law and order is bad for all Americans.
America does not need a fundamental “dismantling,” and most Americans know that. If the Democrats continue to go the way of Ilhan Omar, they will lose — and deserve to lose.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.