IS ILHAN OMAR A COMMUNIST?
As a member of the Democratic Socialists of America whose anti-Semitic remarks have drawn rebuke from colleagues, freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., already has established herself on the far left of her party.
But historian Paul Kengor, a scholar of the history of communism, wonders how far to the left she might be politically, noting the congresswoman’s recent, tearful praise of notorious Communist Party member and Black Panther activist Angela Davis as “one of her idols.”
Kengor acknowledged that the headline in his American Spectator column – “Is Ilhan Omar a communist?” – was provocative enough “to make progressives light their hair on fire.”
A professor of political science at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, he pointed out, however, that Omar’s positions on issues such as taxes – proposing a 90 percent tax rate – puts her to the left of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and even fellow freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
But calling for a 90 percent tax rate “doesn’t necessarily make you a communist,” he acknowledged.
What has raised a “red flag,” he said, is Omar’s “virtually unpublicized remarks” about Davis, calling her not only “enormously inspiring” but an “idol.”
“I’m a little emotional. Everyone knows that I refuse to cry. I talk about this all the time. I always say that nobody really deserves my tears or any of my sisters’ tears,” Omar began in remarks April 30 at a Capitol Hill rally titled “Black Women in Defense of Ilhan Omar.”
“Um, but you all have moved me to tears with your love, and, um, and I am just grateful to all of you,” Omar continued. “To one of my idols, Angela Davis, I just … [Omar cries, crowd cheers] yeah, I just, I, I can’t tell you how enormously inspiring you have been to me throughout my life.”
Kengor is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University, and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Among his many books are “A Pope and A President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century” and “Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage.”
‘Matron of Marxism’
Kengor described Davis as the “matron of Marxism in the United States.”
“If you had to pick America’s most widely known female communist for a half-century standing, you’d pick Angela Davis,” he said.
Kengor pointed out that Davis supported the Soviet invasions of Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, and she twice ran for vice president of the United States on the Communist Party ticket.
She also was known for her membership in the Black Panther Party.
“The Soviets adored her, and the feeling was mutual,” Kengor wrote, pointing to video of Davis in Moscow in 1979 accepting her Lenin Peace Prize in front of a bust of Lenin.
At the ceremony, Davis exchanged kisses with her Kremlin host and thanked her “comrades” as she accepted the award “bearing the glorious name of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin on the very soil where he led the great October Revolution.”
Kengor noted Davis also was feted by the East German leadership that built the Berlin Wall.
In 1970, Davis supplied firearms to personal security guards who used them in the armed takeover of a Marin County, California, courtroom, in which four people were killed. She was charged with aggravated kidnapping and first degree murder in the death of Judge Harold Haley. Four days after a warrant was issued for her arrest, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover listed Davis on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List. FBI agents found her at a motel in New York City. She was prosecuted for three capital felonies but was acquitted of the charges.
What do you believe?
Kengor addressed critics who might argue that Omar was identifying with Davis because of her civil-rights activism.
“Yeah? You can discern that with certainty? If you were to invoke a female civil-rights hero, why not point to Rosa Parks, Daisy Bates, Coretta Scott King, Ella Baker, Harriet Tubman, or even Michelle Obama or Oprah Winfrey? Angela Davis seems a curiously odd choice,” he wrote.
Kengor said it’s “utterly reasonable to simply ask this congresswoman, who we learn disturbingly more about every day, about her ideological underpinnings.”
“Turn your head and something new and disturbing comes from Omar’s mouth or Twitter account. Many of these instances end up with deeper meaning upon closer inspection,” he wrote.
Kengor recalled Omar’s rude treatment in a House hearing of Elliott Abrams, who was the top person in the Reagan administration in articulating anti-communist policy in Latin America in the 1980s.
The Washington Free Beacon and Daily Caller discovered Omar’s affiliation with Witness for Peace, a pro-Cuba, pro-Daniel Ortega group formed in response to Reagan’s efforts to arm the Contras.
“Given what we’ve been hearing almost weekly from Omar, and now seeing her stunning self-identification with Angela Davis, it behooves some of our ‘journalists’ to have a heart-to-heart with her,” Kengor wrote.
“Alas, if liberals are certain that such concerns expressed here are nothing but hot air, then they have nothing to fear. Omar can calmly explain why the ideas of Marx and Engels and Lenin and Brezhnev and Honecker and Angela Davis’s mentor, Herbert Marcuse, are toxic and destructive,” he said.
“Should be easy, eh? A softball to hit right out of the park. That would be reassuring for voters in Minnesota and for all of us,” wrote Kengor.
“What do you say, congresswoman?”
In her short tenure in Congress, Omar has become known for anti-Semitic tweets.
A 2017 tweet recently was unearthed in which she cast the U.S. Army as the villain in the “Black Hawk Down” incident in Somalia.
Omar first came under fire for tweeting in 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
In February, she insinuated in a tweet that politicians in the U.S. were bought by AIPAC, the non-partisan group seeking to foster relations between the U.S. and Israel.
She followed that tweet with another that echoed the anti-Semitic “dual loyalty” trope. Pro-Israel activists, she said, were pushing members of Congress to have “allegiance to a foreign country.”
The House responded with a resolution that eventually was watered down by majority Democrats, omitting her name and condemning hatred of various kinds.
Last month, in a speech at a fundraiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Omar described the 9/11 terror attacks as “some people did something.”