National Public Radio has celebrated Rep. Ilhan Omar — and disparaged conservative media for criticizing her. On Thursday’s Morning Edition, anchor Steve Inskeep treated her like a shadow Secretary of State, touting her new bill imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, for ordering the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi (who was coordinating his writing with the government of Qatar).
Omar is just starting her third year in Congress, so her only heft on these matters is her status as a Muslim and a refugee from Somalia (she arrived in 1995 at the age of 13). Omar is a favorite of the lobbying group the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and CAIR is also backing sanctions on Saudi Arabia’s ruler.
INSKEEP: Ilhan Omar sees the issue in personal terms. Long before her election to Congress, she was herself a refugee from Somalia. And our talk on Mideast politics began with the message she thinks the United States is sending by appearing to leave the crown prince out of the sanctions.
OMAR: You can sort of get away with murder. And that’s not the message that we should be sending if we are to be seen as a country that values having no one be above the law.
NPR is comfortable offering a platform for people coming at Biden from the far left. (Omar had some rough words for Barack Obama, too.) They’re just not wild about being nice to conservatives.
Unsurprisingly, Omar wouldn’t say America has been a force for good in the Middle East (and this wasn’t a question about her anti-Semitic echoes about Israel):
INSKEEP: Has the United States, broadly speaking, been a force for good in the Middle East in recent years?
OMAR: That’s a very loaded question (laughter). So many countries in the Middle East are in disarray. Whether it is our inability to solve and address the need of Palestinians to have a sovereign nation, addressing the continued war and assaults on Yemenis, there are, really, no successes, even in Iraq, for us to celebrate.
And then she played the refugee card again: “To me, as someone who’s survived a civil war, who knows the pain of living in a refugee camp and fleeing conflict, I am constantly pained by the struggles people are going through.” She did redeem herself a little by saying America can always promote democracy and human rights, that other countries look for America to promote those.
Inskeep wrapped up by nudging Omar to denounce those Republicans who pushed a very late challenge to already certified election results, equating them all to the resulting rioting:
INSKEEP: You were voting on that same floor with lawmakers who voted to object to the presidential election January 6. I’m curious, what is your working relationship like with the 140 or so – close to 140 – who voted to object?
OMAR: It’s a fractured relationship. There is a lot of mistrust among lawmakers, you know, a lot of conversations about even voting for bills that are sponsored by those that objected to a functioning democracy. You know, it’s really hard being there.
INSKEEP: Do you see a colleague on the floor who voted to object and that’s the first thing that comes into your mind about them?
OMAR: Yeah. I mean, people now – it’s sort of like January 6 has left a dark cloud. And I just don’t think a lot of us are interested in moving forward and forgetting because we know that political violence and rhetoric that leads to political violence does not disappear. It’s something that has to be addressed.
Some Republicans are beyond the pale, but Omar is never beyond the pale in the newsroom of NPR.