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Bernie Sanders: Ilhan Omar Is “One of the Greatest People I Know”

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Congresswoman Ilhan Omar stumping for Democrat candidate for president Bernie Sanders (Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar stumping for Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders hailed Congresswoman Ilhan Omar as “one of the greatest people” he knows.

The freshman congresswoman joined Bernie Sanders in Virginia last weekend, from which they went on to campaign together in Minnesota.

Sanders needs the support of the next generation of political extremists, like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Linda Sarsour and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, which makes his embrace of Omar a strategic move for him.

Yet, the alliance with Ilhan Omar couldn’t insulate Bernie Sanders against a Super Tuesday defeat by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, nor did it do much to elevate Sanders in Omar’s home state of Minnesota.

Though Biden came out ahead in most of the Democrat primaries, both Biden and Bernie Sanders won a lot of delegates —enough to keep Bernie Sanders in the running.

Ilhan Omar has since come forward and suggested that Bernie Sanders could have defeated Biden had Senator Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the race, coloring a picture of what would have been possible if the “progressives consolidated.”

Yet, among Democrats and especially Muslims, there is considerable division of what “progressive” looks like. Former Democratic candidate Andrew Yang was a uniting force in the progressive movement this election cycle, drawing in a number of conservatives as well.

His exit from the election stage has left many progressives adrift. They’re not all flocking to Bernie Sanders — and neither are Muslims despite how the media is otherwise painting it.

The mainstream media headlines pouring in over Bernie Sanders read like a Muslim fan club:

  • LA Times: Why Many Muslims Treat Bernie Sanders Like a Rock Star
  • Jacobin: Bernie Sanders Is the Strongest Presidential Candidate for Muslims at Home and Abroad
  • Newsweek: Why Muslim Voters Love Bernie Sanders

Despite all the quaint, ethnically-packaged vignettes about how Muslims gathered at local watering holes to “discuss politics over falafel and shakshuka,” what these stories leave out is the identity politics of Muslim supremacism paired with anti-Israel hate that have generated the cult-like Muslim following for Sanders.

But is it cult-like or is it just well marketed?

The hate Islamists and identity-driven Muslims have for Israel is cult-like in that it blinds any larger policy narrative that would typically shape the Muslim vote.

In some cases, Islamists’ vitriolic hate for Israel goes hand-in-hand with their distorted attitudes toward faith and tolerance, and it is these views that are cultish.

If we look at Muslims as a voting block characterized by cultural and faith markers, Muslims have a lot more in common with conservatives: We are family-oriented, pro-life, shy away from social trends that advocate or glorify alternative lifestyles, and most of us have immigrated to America for freedom and economic opportunity.

God, family, community are our mantras as much as the next conservative, however the Islamist narrative has done two things extremely well:

  1. Pushed a marginal Muslim identity above an American one.
  2. Painted Muslims as victims in need of special protection.

These two myths — that we’re Muslims before Americans and that we’re in need of special protection — is a fear-mongering tactic used by Islamists to corral Muslims into one monolithic voting bloc.

When used by politicians, as Senator Elizabeth Warren recently did by grouping Muslims as victim minority communities, it is an opportunistic exploitation of a faith group.

This is why the media keeps pushing headlines like the ones above and conveniently ignoring the vast majority of Muslims who vote independently or as conservatives and without the ticker-tape parade of identity politics.

I would argue many more Muslims are against merging faith identity with politics. However, those Muslims are also not interested in climbing on top of a soapbox.

We live our lives privately and we get on with it — and this, of course, is not newsworthy.

Ilhan Omar’s Greatest Challenge: Dalia Al-Aqidi

What is newsworthy is Ilhan Omar’s challenger in Minnesota: Dalia Al-Aqidi. With almost no mainstream media coverage for what is one of the biggest races outside of the presidency, Dalia’s support among Americans is skyrocketing. With a campaign focused on a shared American identity, and as a refugee and Muslim woman, Dalia has the ability to bring forward more Muslims who are tired of being under the shadow of Islamist politics.

Listen to Al-Aqidi’s recent speech at CPAC:

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Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Clarion Project's National Correspondent.

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