Last week I saw a post on Facebook that a woman I’ve known for years posted. In the post my friend was bemoaning that Ilhan Omar was a member of congress. To support her concerns about this member of Congress, my friend posted a link to a video from One America News (OAN.) OAN is an American right-wing pay television news channel launched in 2013. In this video, performed with the reporter’s upper lip fully curled through most of the video, numerous unsubstantiated allegations were made about Ilhan Omar.
Omar is an elected congresswoman from Minnesota’s congressional 5thdistrict. She is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and has advocated for a living wage, affordable housing and universal healthcare, student loan debt forgiveness, the protection of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She has strongly opposed the immigration policies of the Trump administration, including the Trump travel ban. She has been the subject of several conspiracy theories, death threats, and other harassment by political opponents.
The only documentation the OAN reporter had for all of the claims made in the video was a screen shot of two statements about Israel made by Omar on Twitter. I decided to start my research here. According to a Wikipedia article on Omar:
A frequent critic of Israel, Omar has denounced its settlement policy and military campaigns in the occupied Palestinian territories, and what she describes as the influence of pro-Israel lobbies such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In early 2019 Omar was criticized by a number of Democrats, Republicans and Jewish civil rights groups for comments about American support for Israel that they said drew on anti-Semitic tropes. Omar apologized for some of the remarks.
Since the video didn’t give any supporting documentation for the other allegations made, I decided to do my own research:
The video claimed that Ilhan Omar laughed about Al Queda, According to AP fact check on AP News:
It’s true that plenty of critics thought Omar sounded dismissive about the 2001 terrorist attacks in a comment in a speech in March . Those remarks, though, did not express love “for enemies like al-Qaida,” as Trump put it, or any proof of hatred or detesting America.
The reporter also stated the Omar glorifies abortion up until birth. The only articles I could find about Omar and her statements on abortion stated that she was pro-choice. An example is from The Independent in the UK:
“Religious fundamentalists are currently trying to manipulate state laws in order to impose their beliefs on an entire society,” Ms Omar said, speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday. “All with complete disregard for voices and the rights of American women.” “Because it’s happening here, with the support of the ultra-conservative religious right we call it religious freedom,” she added, going on to accuse anti-abortion activists of hypocrisy.
The video demonized Green New Deal and Health Care for all, claiming every American would be paying large amounts out of pocket to support these proposed changes. In an article on Investopedia they stated:
The main goal of the plan is to bring U.S. greenhouse gas emissions down to net-zero and meet 100% of power demand in the country through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources by 2030. The Green New Deal also calls for the creation of millions of jobs to provide a job guarantee to all Americans, along with access to nature, clean air and water, healthy food, a sustainable environment, and community resiliency… A common rebuttal to opponents from supporters of the Green New Deal is that although it will be expensive to implement, not doing so will be more expensive in the long run.
The video stated that Omar supports the BDS movement, which claims Israel has no right to exist. When I Googled BDS I found that:
Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity…BDS seeks to end the “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” and promotes a right of “Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.” These goals undermine the fundamental right of the Jewish people to self-determination.
When I was in junior high and high school, I took a lot of writing and journalism classes. In these classes we were taught to support any statements we made with facts. Unfortunately, this basic practice no longer seems to be necessary in today’s world.
I don’t understand why so few “news” sources today feel the need to back up their allegations with dates and supporting documentation. When the woman who posted the video received some negative feedback, her response was “But she said these things.” Even though most of what was presented in the video was not documented or supported. How has everything reported on the “news” become fact?
The one aspect of the video that I supported was how the reporter ended the video. She proposed that instead of chanting; “Send her back;” the rallying cry should be: “Vote her out.” Thank you for that small moment of reason. That is how our country works, we should let our voting do the speaking for us, not chants of intolerance.