Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said in an op-ed published Thursday that the rally at which President Trump’s supporters chanted “Send her back!” will be “a defining moment in American history” and underscores what is at stake in next year’s presidential election.
“[T]his fight is not merely about policy ideas; it is a fight for the soul of our nation,” Omar wrote in a piece in the New York Times. “The ideals at the heart of our founding — equal protection under the law, pluralism, religious liberty — are under attack, and it is up to all of us to defend them.”
The rally in Greenville, N.C., came amid a tumultuous week that began with Trump suggesting in a tweet that four liberal minority congresswomen — Omar and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) — should “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
At the rally last week, Trump supporters chanted “Send her back!” when the president recounted several of Omar’s past comments that he characterized as offensive and lashed out at her for her opposition to the Israeli government.
Besides Omar, the other three lawmakers were born in the United States. Omar was born in Somalia and became a U.S. citizen in 2000.
In her op-ed, Omar said what happened at the rally prompted her to “remember the horrors of civil war in Somalia that my family and I escaped.”
“But my family and I persevered, fortified by our deep solidarity with one another, the compassion of others and the hope of a better life in the United States,” Omar wrote.
She recalled attending political events in Minneapolis with her grandfather and “soon recognized that the only way to ensure that everyone in my community had a voice was by participating in the democratic process.”
“Today, that basic promise is under threat,” Omar said. “Our democratic institutions have been weaponized. The Trump administration has sought to restrict people from exercising their voting rights. It has sought to undermine the basic checks and balances of our Constitution by not respecting subpoenas from Congress. And the president has used overtly racist rhetoric to strike fear and division in communities of color and religious minorities across the country.”