Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) is facing new scrutiny for her remarks during a resurfaced, “misleadingly edited” interview in which she called for “profiling” and policies to “fight the radicalization of white men” in America.
The suggestion, though controversial, was bolstered this week by the FBI’s latest numbers on domestic terror arrests — most of which the agency says involved white supremacy and “racially motivated extremists.”
Speaking to Al Jazeera in 2018, Omar argued that Americans “should be more fearful of white men” than jihadism as relates to terrorism.
“They are actually causing most of the deaths in this country,” Omar said in response to how she feels about widespread fear over terrorism committed by jihadis. “And so if fear was the driving force of policies to keep America safe, Americans safe inside this country, we should be profiling, monitoring and creating policy to fight the radicalization of white men.”
She added, in part, “The focus [of] our policies should be about keeping Americans safe, keeping us domestically safe. And where we actually find a solution is looking at our foreign policy, and how we’re engaging with the members of these communities.”
Criticism was swift after an edited portion of the interview was resurfaced by the conservative, evangelical Christian Broadcasting Network, according to The Hill. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) reposted the clip to his Twitter page, and accused the congresswoman of being “racist.”
“I’m sure the media will now hound every Democrat to denounce this statement as racist. Right?” he tweeted Thursday.
Video of the full 10-minute interview, posted on Al Jazeera’s YouTube page, shows Omar’s complete response to the interviewer’s question about fears over “Jihadist terrorism.” The edited clip Sen. Rubio shared did not contain her phrase “if fear was the driving force of policies to keep” the people of America safe.
Robby Soave, an editor with libertarian outlet Reason.com, initially retweeted the clip, but he deleted it after realizing the video had been “misleadingly edited.”
Still, Fox News condemned Omar’s remarks as blatantly racist. Radio host and former National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch weighed in on the congresswoman’s remarks, arguing that statistically, Omar’s argument “is not supported.”
“I ran that with the National Criminal Justice Reference System [and] the National Incident-Based Reporting System, and then the National Criminal Research Service,” Loesch told “Fox and Friends.” “None of those support her argument.”
However, FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday that the majority of the domestic terror-related arrests made by the agency since October have been tied to white supremacy.
“I will say that a majority of the domestic terrorism cases that we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence, but it does include other things as well,” Wray said.
He added that the agency is “aggressively” pursuing and investigating domestic terror and hate crimes, both growing issues he said the agency takes “extremely seriously.”
The notion that white nationalists and extremists are at the center of most incidents of homegrown terror isn’t new, and has even been backed by data. A 2018 report by the Anti-Defamation League found that white supremacists were behind more than half of the 34 extremist-linked fatalities in 2017, outpacing all other domestic terror groups. In it’s 2019 report the group found that all the extremist killings in 2018 were committed by right-wing ideologues.
The data showed that far-right extremists claimed the lives of 18 people in 2017, and at least 50 lives in 2018, mirroring a long-term trend where right-wing violence accounted for the largest share of domestic terror-related killings between 1995 and 2016.
Wray noted that while the FBI has been expedient in investigating domestic terror attacks, the ideology behind the attacks isn’t its main focus.
“Our focus is on the violence,” he explained. “We the FBI don’t investigate the ideology, no matter how repugnant. We investigate violence. And any extremist ideology, when it turns to violence, we’re all over it.”
Watch more in the video below.