A group of about 50 community members gathered at Dogwood Coffee in Minneapolis on Friday, Feb. 3 to show support for Representative Ilhan Omar, who was recently ousted from the Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress. Several speakers kicked off the event with short, rousing speeches encouraging her to stay the course. After the speakers, Ilhan took over and addressed the crowd.
“The fact that on the Foreign Affairs Committee, I have always shown up as the person who wanted powerful people that have been accused and committed war crimes to be held accountable,” said Rep. Omar, whose controversial views on Israel were cited as the reason for her removal. “Someone that understood that we can’t continue to profess this idea of standing up for human rights and upholding international law, but not actually carry it out in reality,” she continued.
“In the last four years that I have been on that committee [Foreign Affairs], I have done precisely that every single year,” she said. “In every single hearing, I have had members on that committee come up and say, ‘I did not know this, thank you. I didn’t hear about that massacre, thank you. I did not know this happened because of our country, thank you.’
“And I’ve also had people that said, ‘How dare you. Who do you think you are? What gives you the right to talk about our country that way?’ as if I am not also from this country.
“As a citizen duly elected by my constituents, I represent their voices and their perspectives, their cares and concerns about our humanity and what gets done with our tax dollars. But the other more important truth of why they work so hard for the last four years is, if you remember, McCarthy made the promise to not have me on that committee before I actually had my first hearing on that committee.
“In 2019 they started saying, ‘Ilhan and Rashida [Tlaib] cannot have any opinions on our foreign policy.’ And the only reason we shouldn’t is because we’re Muslim. She’s Palestinian, I’m African. And what they have done in those last four years is understand that the one thing that makes this committee unique is it’s one I love. And it is one that the people of my district care about and have uniquely elected me to be on that committee.
“I remember sitting in the office of Eliot Engel, who used to chair that committee, and saying, ‘Sir, I want to be on your committee.’ I recall him saying, ‘There are a lot of people already calling and campaigning to be on this committee. I don’t think I can let you on.’
“And I said, ‘Sir, I don’t want to be on any other committee if you are not going to let me be on this committee.’ And he said, ‘When I came to Congress that’s what I told the then-chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and because it means something to you, I am going to make sure I do everything I can regardless of how much we disagree that you get to sit on this committee.’ And I have been on that committee ever since.
“They understand that regardless of how many smears they put out there about me being a spy, me not focusing too much on foreign affairs, me not caring about my district and worrying about my people, my district has continually said that ‘No, actually we want her to talk about this because nobody else representing us is talking about these things. There are people who are seeking refuge that we have welcomed into this country that are impacted by the work of that committee. Ilhan gets that. We want her on that committee.’
“Again and again, whether it is $10 million, $20 million, $30 million, $40 million dollars that have been spent in the last four years against me, my constituents have shown up to say, ‘No, we actually want her to do the work in exactly the way she’s doing it.’
“So what they’re doing now is to remove that, to say, ‘She’s no longer serving that purpose for you. Now we can amplify the attack to unseat her.’ Because the ultimate goal is not only for me not to be on the Foreign Affairs Committee, but it’s to make sure I’m not in Congress at all. So this is a plan, and I want you to all know that, that that is the plan.
“My promise to all of you that this congresswoman that you send to Congress because of her lived experiences and her dedication to creating a more peaceful world will never stop.”
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