Ilhan Omar on Principles & Values



Advance images of America didn't include NYC garbage

[First impressions upon immigrating as a child]: I was distraught. Where am I? Where is the big beautiful city? All I see is garbage. How? How is this America?

The images I had arrived at came mainly from the cowboy movies that we used to watch in Somalia. But I knew the scenes from Westerns--animals in the barnyard, people riding horses, cowboys shooting each other outside of the saloons--were not from present day America. The other source of information I had was from the orientation video, where the America presented to us--the America we watched go by in the pictures of immaculate suburbs, bountiful farms, and thriving malls--was perfect.

My twelve year old brain was freaking out, trying to reconcile the urban landscape before me in the video I had watched in orientation.

Source: This Is What America Looks Like, by Ilhan Omar, p. 62 , Jul 27, 2021

Helped found "Unity in Diversity" group in high school

[As a high school at Edison High], soon enough I became part of a group of students who decided we wanted to do something to improve racial and cultural relations among the many different communities at Edison. With the idea of creating a coalition, we met with the principal and one of his administrators to walk through the kinds of challenges we were facing and the ways we could channel our energy into something positive. We were fortunate they were willing to listen. (Many of us from that group still maintain relationships with that principal to this day.)

"Unity in Diversity," the coalition we eventually formed, met in the lounge area our principal had offered for our organizing. We had come up with what was essentially a training program around diverse leadership. I don't know that any of us thought ourselves as leaders at the time.

Source: This Is What America Looks Like, by Ilhan Omar, p. 83-84 , Jul 27, 2021

Constantly being underestimated has been helpful to me

As I was walking out, he said, "I've been racking my brain trying to figure out what's different about you and I've got it."

"My hijab?," I said sarcastically.

"No, it's that you walk in somehow like you're a man. A white man. Yes, a white man."

Constantly being underestimated has always been helpful to me. It was really hard for him to imagine that a ninety pound refugee hijabi could be confident enough to walk into a leadership role of a caucus whose most important incumbent she defeated. What did he expect? For me to walk around with an inferior complex? I didn't feel inferior to anyone in the State House. Having been elected by the people, I had just as much right as anyone else to be there.

Source: This Is What America Looks Like, by Ilhan Omar, p.234-235 , Jul 27, 2021

Margaret Thatcher is my greatest hero, but not her politics

Whenever I am asked which famous person I would want to meet, dead or alive, my answer is always without fail Margaret Thatcher. It surprises people that the leader of Britain's conservative Party is my greatest shero. While her politics aren't mine, she was also the first female Prime Minister of Britain. Thatcher was a self starter in the greatest of ways.

Without any kind of social invitation or connections, time and time again she showed up in rooms filled with men and didn't have to do much to lead them to decide that she should be in charge. That she held office for eleven years, longer than any other British politician in the twentieth century, proves her level of confidence and intellect. It was her fearlessness and internal sense of equality, however, which made her able to pull off being a first.

Source: This Is What America Looks Like, by Ilhan Omar, p.260-261 , Jul 27, 2021

We have to all work for the America we want and deserve

I truly believe the America that we all want and deserve is not just a myth but a place that actually exists. But only if we work hard for it, and not just individually--not just for ourselves, our families, our ethnicities, religions or other groups to which we belong. We need to work for it together.

As we continue to perfect our union, citizens, neighbors, co-workers, and family must keep expanding our circles of self interest to learn and re-learn the fundamental truth that we are all connected. The more invested we are in one another, the better the rest of us will be. This is the philosophy of interconnectedness that IO operate on as a legislator in a country where there is enough abundance to achieve all goals.

Source: This Is What America Looks Like, by Ilhan Omar, p.263-264 , Jul 27, 2021

A healthy religious practice is for you and you alone

My main experience with religious people was their trying to give me a hard time about why I wasn't more religious. [One friend] opened my mind to a more radically different concept of what it means to be devout. I discovered a solidly internal definition that rested on the care of one's own spiritual well-being and nothing else. Commenting that someone wasn't praying enough or dressing to modestly was born out of insecurity. A healthy religious practice is for you, and you alone.
Source: This Is What America Looks Like, by Ilhan Omar, p.118 , Jul 27, 2021

Got House rules changed to allow religious headgear

The House of Representatives had a ban on headgear, enacted in 1837, that would ban Omar from walking into the chamber wearing her hijab. "I'm a little worried what happens if we don't win the majority. Will they amend that for me? Would I be able to sit as a member of Congress?" [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi told her not to worry about it, she would fix it.

True to her word, Pelosi made sure she had no problem wearing her hijab for the swearing in. Then the new Congress voted to amend the rule to allow religious head coverings, a measure cosponsored by Pelosi, [Massachusetts Representative Jim] McGovern, and Omar.

Source: Madam Speaker, by Susan Page, p.293 , Apr 20, 2021

Don't tolerate anti-Semitism even from members of Congress

Ilhan Omar touched off a controversy when she responded to her public criticisms of Israel, saying, "It's all about the Benjamins, baby." [When asked who was providing such funding], Omar tweeted "AIPAC!" referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Omar "unequivocally" apologized. "Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, [including] AIPAC."

Nadler, a prominent Jewish lawmaker and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee: "It is deeply disappointing and disturbing to hear Representative Ilhan Omar's choice of words in her exchange with a journalist yesterday, wherein she appears to traffic in old anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money. Her words are deeply hurtful and offensive, particularly as they build on a previous comment she made about Jews 'hypnotizing' the world in support of Israel."

Source: Fox News on 2019 NY-10 House incumbent , Feb 11, 2019

Endorsed Endorsed by Bernie Sanders/Our Revolution.

Omar is endorsed by Bernie Sanders/Our Revolution endorsement list

Endorsements by Bernie Sanders' group, "Our Revolution," implying support of a progressive agenda and "organizing to win." OR's self-description: "Bernie Sanders launched Our Revolution--America's leading grassroots-funded progressive political organizing group--to empower everyday Americans to stand up to the corporate interests that seek to manipulate our government for personal gain."

Source: Ballotpedia 2016-2022 endorsement list 2022-OR on Jan 1, 2022

Certify 2020 Presidential election as fully & fairly counted.

Omar voted NAY blocking certification of the Electoral vote

Explanation of 1/6/21 Electoral Certification, by Emily Brooks, Washington Examiner:Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Gosar led an objection to counting Electoral College votes from the state of Arizona, the first formal objection to state results in a series of moves that will delay the certification of Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election over President Trump. Cruz is advocating for an `emergency 10-day audit` of election returns in disputed states. The usually ceremonial joint session of Congress that convenes to count and accept Electoral College votes will be put on hold as the House and Senate separately debate the objection.