The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ilhan Omar calls Tucker Carlson a ‘racist fool’ after he describes her as a threat to U.S.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

On his Tuesday program, Fox News host Tucker Carlson praised an immigration system that produced refugee turned lawmaker Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) — then condemned her as “living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country.”

Carlson, whose 2018 comment that immigrants make the United States “dirtier” triggered an advertiser pullout, spoke at length about a history of welcoming immigrants that contrasted with his earlier commentary that suggests perhaps too many have been welcomed.

His comments were threaded with Omar’s story. She fled the Somali civil war into a Kenyan refugee camp and then arrived at age 12 in the United States, where she has said she found discrimination and racism incompatible with the expectations of American idealism.

Ilhan Omar’s American story: It’s complicated

Now she’s one of the youngest members of Congress, a frequent critic of President Trump and, as Carlson put it, “one of the most powerful women in America.”

Carlson used her success as evidence of a welcoming spirit for immigrants.

“Americans like to help. It makes us feel good,” Carlson said. “Some of our deepest satisfaction as a country comes from watching penniless immigrants arrive on our shores, buy into our values and thrive. We call it the American Dream.”

But then Carlson described Omar as not sufficiently thankful for her success in the country. “Omar has an awful lot to be grateful for,” he said. “But she isn’t grateful . . . she hates this country more than ever.”

Omar ripped Carlson on Twitter following the segment.

“Not gonna lie, it’s kind of fun watching a racist fool like this weeping about my presence in Congress,” she wrote, adding laughing emoji. “No lies will stamp out my love for this country or my resolve to make our union more perfect. They will just have to get used to calling me Congresswoman!”

On the program, Carlson described Omar as a threat.

“She has undisguised contempt for the United States and for its people,” Carlson said. “That should worry you, and not just because Omar is now a sitting member of Congress. Ilhan Omar is living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country. A system designed to strengthen America is instead undermining it.”

Carlson bolstered his claims with a recent profile of Omar published in The Washington Post. He read one portion on air:

In Omar’s version, America wasn’t the bighearted country that saved her from a brutal war and a bleak refugee camp. It wasn’t a meritocracy that helped her attend college or vaulted her into Congress. Instead, it was the country that had failed to live up to its founding ideals, a place that had disappointed her and so many immigrants, refugees and minorities like her.

In March, a wave of radio show recordings from 2008 that were resurfaced by a liberal group featured Carlson making racist, sexist and homophobic statements, which included Carlson calling Iraqis “semiliterate primitive monkeys.”

Iraq is part of the Trump administration’s travel ban that restricts immigration from several Muslim-majority nations, including Somalia, where Omar was born. Carlson did not mention the travel ban but appeared to connect Omar’s origin to an immigration policy prescription.

“Maybe we are importing people from places who are simply antithetical to ours,” he said, describing Omar.

More restrictions appeared to be on Carlson’s mind. But he conceded he did not know what, exactly, had troubled him.

“Who knows what the problem is,” he said.

Following news reports of the exchange, Trump amplified to his 61.8 million followers an attack on Omar from conservative commentator Mark Levin.

The remarks of the freshman member of Congress during an address to a Muslim rights organization spawned controversy, but it was just a snippet. (Video: Meg Kelly/The Washington Post, Photo: Atthar Mirza/The Washington Post)

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