Ilhan Omar Pushes Back On Calls For More Domestic Terrorism Legislation

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) participates in a panel discussion during the Muslim Collective For Equitable Democracy Conference and Presidential Forum at the The National Housing Center July 23, 2019 in Washington, DC.
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Amid reports of President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to implement new domestic terrorism laws in the wake of the Capitol riots, Ilhan Omar pushed back on the idea that more legislation is necessary.

“Last week’s events were traumatizing — not least for the Members of Congress and Capitol staff who were onsite,” she told The Daily Beast.

“But we must not give into fear or allow ourselves to be terrorized by those who seek to harm us. The answer is not a broader security structure, or a deeper police state.”

The publication noted that Omar, who came to America as a Somalian refugee, has been the focus of threats from many on the political right due to the “unique place” she occupies in the minds of white nationalist extremists.

Despite the threats that she has faced — and her view on the importance of focusing on double standards used against protestors across races and religions — Omar doesn’t believe that a new War on Terror is the right path forward.

“But at the same time we must resist the very human desire for revenge — to simply see the tools that have oppressed Black and Brown people expanded.”

Omar stressed the importance of respecting the rights and dignity of all Americans. She pushed back against the expansion of the surveillance and security states and contended that current American legislation is sufficient to hold violent actors to account.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) campaigns at the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Central Avenue on August 11, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  Stephen Maturen / Getty Images

Journalist Glenn Greenwald praised Omar on Twitter for her comments as her Democratic colleagues express opposing viewpoints. He also echoed The Daily Beast’s suggestion that she knows first-hand how “abusive” such legislation is and understands the importance of civil liberties in such precarious moments. Notably, Greenwald sounded the alarm last week on what he sees as a new War on Terror that has been accelerated by the recent events at the Capitol.

In a piece for The Nation, columnist Moustafa Bayoumi echoed Omar and Greenwald and warned against expanding anti-terrorism laws to take on right-wing extremists. He noted that prosecutors use many of the broad terrorism laws for other purposes and argued that the Justice Department does not sufficiently pay attention to far-right violence. This lack of attention, he said, would likely lead to new legislation inevitably being weaponized against marginalized groups like Muslims.

Writer Benjamin Wallace-Wells previously noted that the Patriot Act implemented by George W. Bush was used mostly to prosecute drug cases — 1,618, in particular — from 2006 to 2009. Conversely, it was used to prosecute just 15 terrorism cases in the same period.