Why Trump didn’t incite violence

Criticizing Ilhan Omar’s words or actions is not inciting violence.

Christopher Lindsay Montreal QC

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has outraged Republicans with her comments about 9/11.

Speaking at an event for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, she referred to the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans as “some people did something.” For Omar, it is politically incorrect to tell a Muslim audience that Islamic jihadists are responsible for the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history.

Omar is wrong not to name those responsible. All terrorists should be identified by their ideology and condemned, no matter their religion or race.

Consider the recent terrorist attack by a white supremacist on two mosques in New Zealand. If a white Republican referred to the deaths of 50 innocent Muslims as “some person did something” how would people react?

Democrats would be outraged, and rightly so. Just as white people should condemn white supremacists, so should Muslims condemn Islamic jihadists.

Omar’s statement that “some people did something” is offensive because it makes no mention of the loss of life on 9/11. Not only did she fail to identify the “some people”, she also didn’t acknowledge the “something” that they did.

She can make things right by doing two things:

First, she should apologize to the families of the victims for what she said. Second, she should declare the truth: Islamic terrorists are responsible for 9/11.

But Omar has not apologized, and she blames terrorism on U.S. government “involvement in other people’s affairs.”

The U.S. government should not be blamed for the actions of Islamic terrorists. Although Omar is correct that terrorism can be a “reaction” to U.S. military involvement in other countries, the terrorists alone are responsible for killing innocent people.

Democrats should be joining Republicans in condemning Omar. Instead, they are condemning Donald Trump for criticizing her. After Trump tweeted a video that included Omar’s speech and news footage of the hijacked planes crashing into the Twin Towers, Democrats are accusing him of inciting violence.

Beto O’Rourke tweeted, “The president’s actions are an incitement to violence against Rep. Omar and Muslim Americans across the country.” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted, “The President is inciting violence against a sitting Congresswoman—and an entire group of Americans based on their religion.  It’s disgusting.  It’s shameful.”

On the contrary, what is “shameful” and “disgusting” are the Democrats’ two tweets. O’Rourke is a former Congressman, and Warren is a Senator. As legislators, they should understand the legal meaning of inciting violence.

In a 1969 ruling, the Supreme Court said the government can restrict or punish speech “where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action…” The word incite is legally defined as “to instigate, persuade, or move another to commit a crime.” If you incite violence, you are calling upon a person (or persons) to kill or injure someone.

Trump’s criticism of Omar—no matter how blunt or boldly stated—is not inciting violence. His tweet did not call upon anyone to break the law—to kill or injure Omar. Yet that is precisely what O’Rourke and Warren have accused Trump of. They either don’t understand what inciting violence means, or they are willfully deceiving Americans.

The latter seems more likely. O’Rourke and Warren have falsely accused the President of inciting violence because they want to blame him for death threats made against Omar. However, Trump is not responsible for the threats. The only persons responsible are those who want to harm her.

When it comes to free speech, the Democrats have a double standard. They believe in free speech if anyone criticizes Trump (even though it might inspire someone to assassinate him), but they don’t want Trump to criticize Omar because someone else might threaten her.

Conflating criticism of a politician with inciting violence is illogical. There are countless Democrats who have harshly criticized Trump. Others have publicly expressed hatred and contempt for him. Are they guilty of inciting violence against the President? No, of course not!  They have simply exercised their First Amendment right to free speech.

Omar exercised her right to free speech when she commented on the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And now everyone else (including the President) has the right to respond to what she said. No politician should be immune from criticism.


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