“She doesn’t have the glibness, the language of a veteran that knows this is the proper response.”
Geraldo Rivera on Friday defended Rep. Ilhan Omar, D. Minn., for her comments about the Sept. 11 attacks – arguing that she lacks “the language” to properly express herself about the tragedy.
On Fox News talk show “The Five,” host Jesse Watters argued that Omar has consistently refused to take responsibility for her offensive remarks and instead “whines” that she’s being targeted because of her identity. But Rivera disagreed.
“This is not whining. She’s being attacked. This is an existential threat,” he said. “She’s getting death threats on a daily basis.”
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Rivera made the case that Omar isn’t savvy enough to know how to talk about the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
“I’m a New Yorker. I understand you speak with solemn hush tones when you talk about 9/11. I lost friends and neighbors on 9/11. I get it. It is awful. 343 firefighters, 71 cops. I get it. It’s a mass murder, mass grave downtown,” he said. “She doesn’t have the glibness, the language of a veteran that knows this is the proper response when you’re talking about something as horrific as, as dramatic as 9/11.”
He went on to suggest that Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich, who in January became the first two Muslim congresswoman, were indeed the victims of bigotry.
“For the first time in history you have two Muslim women in the Congress of the United States. They carry an enormous burden,” Rivera said.
Omar, a Somali immigrant who has a long history of inflammatory comments about the United States and Israel, has again come under fire from conservatives after a video that surfaced on Twitter last week of her characterizing 9/11 as “some people did something” during a Council on American-Islamic Relations banquet in California on March 23.
On Thursday, the New York Post pilloried Omar in a front-page editorial. On Saturday, President Donald Trump retweeted a video interspersing her edited remarks with video of the carnage of 9/11. He commented: “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!”
WE WILL NEVER FORGET! pic.twitter.com/VxrGFRFeJM
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2019
In line with Rivera, Omar and her defenders have accused her critics of picking on her because she is a black Muslim woman.
Omar on Friday tweeted out a quote about 9/11 from former President George W. Bush, asking: “What if he was a Muslim”? The implication was that his words would have been distorted like hers allegedly were.
“The people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” President George W. Bush
Was Bush downplaying the terrorist attack?
What if he was a Muslim ? https://t.co/XMazssoD49
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) April 12, 2019
She also said in a series of tweets Saturday that Trump, whom she indirectly called “corrupt, inept,” and “vicious,” cannot “threaten my unwavering love for America.”
No one person – no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious – can threaten my unwavering love for America. I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) April 13, 2019
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has called the backlash against Omar “an incitement of violence against progressive women of color.” She backed a boycott of the Post over its cover, compared those who are upset to Nazis and suggested that Rep. Dan Crenshaw, D-Texas, in particular, has no right to talk about 9/11 and should instead focus on right-wing extremism.
Tlaib has spoken out for her colleague in similar terms. She claimed that the backlash to Omar’s 9/11 comments was “racist” and put her life in danger, and later accused the Democratic leadership of failing to stand behind Omar while using its new Muslims members to boast about its diversity.
Democrat Rep. Rashida Tlaib defends Rep. Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 comments: “she does speak truth”
Tlaib suggests that those who are criticizing Omar are racist pic.twitter.com/of0rgKeCWg
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) April 11, 2019
Other top Democrats rushed to Omar’s defense after Trump’s tweet on Saturday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scolded the president for using the “painful images of 9/11 for a political attack” against Omar.
Asked last month to comment on Omar’s previous criticism of U.S. support for Israel, which many saw as anti-Semitic, Pelosi had made a similar argument to Rivera’s.
“I don’t think our colleague is anti-Semitic,” she said. “I think she has a different experience in the use of words, doesn’t understand that some of them are fraught with meaning, that she didn’t realize.”
Pelosi says @IlhanMN doesn't understand the meaning of the words she uses:
"I don't think our colleague is anti-Semitic. I think she has a different experience in the use of words, doesn't understand that some of them are fraught with meaning, that she didn't realize." pic.twitter.com/VpOV0hRvJD
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) March 8, 2019
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- Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn./Geraldo Rivera.: Screen grabs