Nazis fled Germany at the end of WWII. Were they refugees? If your answer is no, then maybe it’s time to stop calling Ilhan Omar’s family refugees.
Omar’s family—by her own account—worked for Somalia’s government. Somalia’s government was engaged in genocide.
When they fled Somalia, they weren’t saving themselves from persecution, they were escaping justice. Her attempts to cast her family as wholesome refugees has only worked because Americans are ignorant of Somali history.
So, here is some basic Somali history. This background will make it possible to understand the truth about Omar’s past and see how she actually outed her own family.
In Somalia, in 1969, a man named Mohamed Siad Barre took power and formed a government part Communist, part Islamic, and part dictatorship. Per capita GDP for Somalis was roughly $175 a year.
Barre tried to build a “Greater Somalia” by launching a war against Ethiopia. His troops committed various atrocities including raping women and killing brothers, husbands, and fathers, who objected.
In the 1980s, after the “Greater Somalia” plot failed, Barre’s government engaged in massive assaults against Somali citizens in rival clans, including but not limited to: bombing, shelling, rape, door-to-door murders, and torture.
“They opened fire indiscriminately. I saw so many classmates dying on front of me. They torture us. They kill us, in a military base. And whatever I remember, my friends, dying in front of me, it keeps me, it keeps me, I can’t even talk at all about that situation now,” one survivor recalled.
A full 200,000 Somalis may have been massacred, with hundreds of thousands more becoming refugees.
Okay. So that is the background on Somalia. Here is how Omar described her life during that time period: “certainty and joy.” She lived in Somalia during the 1980s, so her life of “certainty and joy” coincided with the poverty, civil war, and genocide.
This is how Minnesota’s City Pages described Omar’s life in Somalia in a lengthy account based on a first hand interview with her: “Privilege accompanied this kind of pedigree. Books and culture were priorities inside the home, which was more like a compound, complete with domestic help. In a country where 80% of the population farmed and raised livestock, Omar started kindergarten at age four.”
Compound? Privilege? Pedigree? What exactly was Omar’s family doing?
Well, according to Omar, her grandfather was Somalia’s National Marine Transport director. He worked for Barre, and judging from his job title, in a fairly prominent role.
I contacted Omar’s office for clarification on her grandfather’s role under Barre. Her office has not responded.
It seems that after escaping from Somalia and reaching America, Omar’s grandfather did not give up politics. According to Omar’s own web page, her grandfather is actually the one who got Omar started in politics in Minnesota.
Omar and City Pages further explained, “[Omar’s] Aunts and uncles worked as civil servants and educators.”
This is how a UN report on Somalia describes civil servants under Barre and his Supreme Revolutionary Council, “civil servants attended reorientation courses that combined professional training with political indoctrination, and those found to be incompetent or politically unreliable were fired.”
What ideology were they reliably indoctrinated with? The UN report explained, “The theoretical underpinning of the state ideology combined aspects of the Qur’an with the influences of Marx, Lenin, Mao, and Mussolini… Portraits of [Barre] in the company of Marx and Lenin festooned the streets on public occasions.”
In other words, Omar was raised by devoted Communists. While Americans were learning about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, she was indoctrinated with Marx and Lenin.
There is a certain irony to the fact that Democrats are supposed to be the party vigilant on Russia and yet their newest and loudest voice was brought up in a family and culture that espoused and idolized Lenin.
Finally, there was Omar’s father, who, “trained teachers.”
What’s the significance of all this? J Michael Waller, an expert on foreign affairs and longtime watcher of such evil regimes, commented, “If you’re part of the regime, you’re part of the regime. Indoctrination of populations to ensure loyalty to the regime is a crime in itself.”
Follow this timeline. In 1991, Barre’s government fell, and he fled to Kenya. In 1991, Omar and her family fled to Kenya. In 1992, CBC ran a documentary about how Somali war criminals were fleeing Somalia and reaching America and Canada. In 1995, Omar and her family reached America.
Naturally, Omar can’t be blamed for her family’s actions in Barre’s genocidal government. She was a child. But at the same time, her prevarications on her past aren’t right either.
It would mean something entirely different if she had been raised in such dreadful circumstances and made her life about the public and proud rejection of them. Unfortunately, instead of that, or simply just passing quietly over her past, she has glorified it.
In contrast with her time in Somalia, she recounts her disappointment upon arriving in America: “[Omar] felt ripped off… [America] was a headache of car horns and homelessness, an eyesore of trash and graffiti. She turned to her father in disbelief: ‘This doesn’t look like the America you promised.’”
Rather than rejecting the teachings of her youth, she seems to have fully embraced them.
America is a very open country and that has often been a source of strength, but perhaps it’s being a little too open to put someone in Congress who was raised as part of a genocidal and communist regime?