Activist icon Angela Davis and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) spearheaded a rally Tuesday in Washington, D.C., of black women in support of besieged Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
Davis and Barbara Ransby, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an adviser to the Movement for Black Lives, planned the event, according to The Hill, which they called “Black Women in Defense of Ilhan Omar,” who is one of only two Muslim women in Congress.
The rally was planned in response to the recent ratcheting up of political attacks on Omar by Donald Trump and conservatives after video surfaced of her speaking of the Islamophobia that surfaced after 9/11. Trump and other critics accused her of minimizing the deadly impact of 9/11, with Trump releasing video on Twitter that wove her words among images from the terrorist attack.
Davis and others at Tuesday’s rally called Trump’s attack another example of the kind of misogynoir the occupant of the Oval Office reserves for black women. They urged Congress to censure Trump, Democracy Now reports.
According to The Hill:
Trump, Davis said, “uses this bizarre logic of fungibility, where one Muslim represents the worst—or all Muslims, rather, represent the worst deeds that any Muslim has ever conducted,” a logical process she said was “at the heart of racism.”
“Trump has been vitriolic toward so many groups, but I think there’s a particular venom when it comes to black women,” Ransby added, citing both his attacks on Omar and his frequent taunts of Rep. Maxine Waters(D-Calif.) and his 2017 feud with Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who accused him of making a Gold Star widow cry by telling her that her late husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, “knew what he signed up for.”
And the danger goes beyond politics. Omar said death threats against her spiked after the release of the Trump video.
At the rally, which drew about 100 people who were invited to attend, Omar took on those who would accuse her of being anti-Semitic or anti-American, saying, according to NBC News:
“... when we are talking about anti-Semitism, we must also talk about Islamophobia; it’s two sides of the same coin of bigotry,” she added. “Just this week, when we’ve had the attack in California on a synagogue, it’s the same person who’s accused of attempting to bomb a mosque. So I can’t ever speak of Islamophobia and fight for Muslims if I am not willing to fight against anti-Semitism.”
Pressley said it was time Democrats got real about their own part in the attacks on Omar by sitting silently in the face of them.
“We can talk about the occupant in the White House, and we can talk about our colleagues on the other side of the aisle,” Pressley said, NBC reports. “But I want to have a talk within our own family — my party family. Because I can’t sit idly by when we walk in contradiction and hypocrisy and go into our districts and affirm and lift up our commitments to the preservation of families and fighting for immigrants and refugees in our districts, but I can’t protect my sister in my own caucus.”
Davis, in an interview with Democracy Now, said Omar is under attack “because she is an immigrant, because she is Muslim, because she is a courageous, bold black woman .... We say that we stand with her, we support her, and we will not give up.”