Ilhan Omar Brags About Advancing a Somalia First Agenda in Congress

COMMENTARY Progressivism

Ilhan Omar Brags About Advancing a Somalia First Agenda in Congress

Feb 5, 2024 5 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Mike Gonzalez

Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Senior Fellow

Mike is the Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Senior Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks during a news conference on November 13, 2023 in Washington, D.C. Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

Omar appears not just to put her Somali ethnicity first but...sees her job in Congress as representing the interests of the east African country and its government.

“While I am in Congress, no one will take Somalia’s sea,” read a translation that she retweeted.

Omar, who accuses Americans who support Israel’s right to exist of “divided loyalty,” seems to have forgotten her job is to look after American interests.

Every day, up to 5,000 prospective “asylum-seekers” cross America’s porous southern border, a growing crisis that has existed since Joe Biden became president and acted on his campaign call for foreign nationals to “surge to the border.” A question Americans should be asking is: How many of them will be like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)?

The U.S. granted Omar and her family refugee status from a Kenyan refugee camp in 1995 after they had fled the horrors of civil war in their native Somalia. In 2000, the U.S. granted her naturalization, and she took the oath to become an American citizen. Within less than two decades, she was elected to represent Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District.

As is our wont today, instead of commenting on her readiness for the job, let alone vetting her, the media lionized Omar as a woman of many firsts—the first woman of color to represent Minnesota, the first Somalian-American in Congress, and the first of two Muslims, among others.

This is how America is constituted today. Because all of life is seen through the prism of an epic struggle between categories of the oppressed and their oppressors, diversity becomes a goal in itself. In fact, it is an a priori good, trumping considerations of merit, character, and ethics.

>>> Democrats Shouldn’t Be Surprised by Their Left Flank’s Radicalism

Multiculturalism has become our society’s goal while extolling Americanness is frowned upon. Focusing on America’s interests is seen as passe, even for those elected to do exactly that.

It should hardly surprise us, then, that, according to comments that have seen the light of day this week, Omar appears not just to put her Somali ethnicity first but to think of herself as a Somali—that is, a citizen of Somalia—and sees her job in Congress as representing the interests of the east African country and its government.

This is in contravention of the balance that America historically has struck as a nation that has taken in more than 100 million immigrants since the 1840s: You are let in and can become American and seen by others as such, but in exchange, you shed foreign allegiances. Our current system produces just the opposite—not new Americans, but residents who retain their foreign allegiances.

Omar’s comments came in a speech she gave in Somali to a crowd at a Minneapolis hotel, in which she criticized the fact that the breakaway Republic of Somaliland had negotiated a memorandum of understanding to give the landlocked nation of Ethiopia access to the sea in an area that Somalia claims.

A version of the speech with English subtitles circulated online. It brought a heap of criticism to Omar, and she posted that the translation was “not only slanted but completely off.” Curiously, however, she only protested that Somalia rightfully owns the disputed area.

“No nation-state can survive if its states start to get involved in land lease negotiations with other countries without the consent of the federal government,” Omar wrote.

That in no way, however, answered her critics, who didn’t appear to give a hoot about a territorial dispute in a part of the world most people have to look up on a map, as I did. No. What rankled were other parts of the speech, such as her telling the crowd that the U.S. government will do what Somalis tell it to do.

“While I am in Congress, no one will take Somalia’s sea,” read a translation that she retweeted.

I do not speak Somali, but I found an online AI translation service. It rendered that passage as, “During my time in Congress, Somalia is not sharing its waters and seas with other nations.”

The version I had translated, as well as others, makes amply clear that Omar gave an irredentist, patriotic speech that, at times, clearly strayed into ethnic nationalism.

But it wasn’t about America, the land that took her in, bestowed citizenship on her, and allowed her to achieve the American dream. Omar, one of the most woke members of Congress, would cringe at a speech like this if it were about America.

Indeed, all of the speech was blood and soil, only about Somalia, extolling the blood kinship of its people. In one of the online versions, she appears to bemoan that a substantial percentage of Somalia’s residents are not ethnic Somalis.

“We are people of brotherhood, people of blood, people who know themselves to be Somalis, to be Muslims … We are a gifted set of individuals with a patriotic spirit that acknowledges our homeland and strives to protect it,” Omar said, according to my AI translator.

>>> Why Biden’s Support Among Hispanics Is Tanking—Here’s a Hint: The Border Crisis

“We understand that Somalia’s unity and identity are tied to its people, but our homeland is under threat, and we are scrambling to claim territories we no longer possess,” she added. “Somalia belongs to Somalis—it is unified, and we are all brothers.”

Which brings us to America. No member of either house of Congress is more supportive of keeping the border wide open than Omar is. Last year, she said, “No person seeking asylum is crossing the border ‘illegally.'”

An estimated 10 million people have surged the border in Biden’s three years in office, and unless we radically change ways, those who are not deported by a future president will not be taught the values of unity, identity, brotherhood, patriotism, and homeland—all things Omar extols in Somalia but detests here.

Worse still, Omar, who has the chutzpah to accuse Americans who support Israel’s right to exist of “divided loyalty,” seems to have forgotten her job is to look after American interests. While Israel is a cornerstone of America’s Middle East policy, the government of Somalia, whose president Omar refers to as “my president,” is led by supporters of terrorism. It could easily be in America’s interests to see Somalia share its waters one day.

She’s also forgotten the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance she took in 2000, which starts, “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.”

This piece originally appeared in the Washington Examiner

More on This Issue

COMMENTARY 4 min read

Harvard Takes a Small Step Forward

SPECIAL REPORT Over an hour read

How DEI Undermines U.S. Diplomacy