Unrepentant Ilhan Omar brings more ignorance to open 2020 – Guest Opinion by Ari Kaufman

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Last year in print and electronic media I pondered, exposed and commented upon Rep. Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitic rhetoric, anti-Americanism, divisiveness, and tendencies toward bigotry. 

While analyzing this ongoing horrid situation in my state is imperative, I wish I didn’t have to, but I will so long as she continues to supply it.

Despite a half-hearted apology last February saying she’s “listening and learning,” Omar instead doubled and tripled down on similarly insidious commentary throughout last year, with already more controversy to open 2020.  

During a Jan. 8 news conference while Iranian bombs targeting American military sites flew in the sky, Omar audaciously remarked she “felt ill because of everything that is taking place. And I think every time I hear conversations around war, I find myself being stricken with PTSD.”

Yet in the same press conference, cameras caught Omar laughing while Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee speciously tried to score political points by discussing U.S. service members killed in the Iraq War.

Omar’s ludicrous analogy perturbed many of our nation’s veterans who sacrifice so much to keep Americans (and Muslims) safe. 

But don’t take my word; my cousin, age 37 like Omar, served two tours of duty during the War on Terror. He texted me right away. 

 “I found her comments offensive and completely out of touch,” he told me, clearly frustrated. “Many soldiers I served with suffer from war-related PTSD after putting their lives on the line on a daily basis. I highly doubt her experiences warrant a similar feeling.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), a rising conservative star and military veteran just two years older than Omar, agreed. He said the first-term congresswoman’s comments were “offensive to our nation’s veterans who really do have PTSD after putting their life on the line to keep America safe.” 

Banks also tweeted Jan. 10 that if Omar hates war, she should thank the Trump administration “for keeping us out of war with Iran, but instead her hate drove her, Pelosi and others to vote to tie POTUS’ hands & prevent our troops from defending themselves in the case of an attack.” 

For background, Banks is not a person of “privilege” as his critics will immediately say, since that’s a common attack line when lacking facts. 

He grew up in an Indiana trailer park while his father worked at an auto plant and mother cooked. With origins in rural Kentucky, Banks was the first college graduate in his family and joined the U.S. Navy at age 33 while serving in the Indiana legislature, deploying to Afghanistan in 2014.

We should not mock the plight of refugees, but Omar’s comparisons are a stretch. She moved to America as a child more than a quarter-century ago and comes from an educated family of civil servants and teachers. According to a glowing 2016 piece in the left-wing Minneapolis City Pages, Omar lived a “blessed life” in Somalia.

Additionally, her views of our country that fought to save her, allowed her family to settle in freedom, and jumpstart her political career just a few years after college graduation no less, remain backwards and appalling. Omar’s unrelenting rancor deserves opprobrium. 

Last summer, she proudly crafted anti-Semitic policy by introducing a resolution supporting Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS)—a rogue movement that the German parliament recently condemned as akin to Nazi campaigns targeting Jews. 

Massive bipartisan opposition (398-17) defeated the execrable measure, and even prominent Democrats concurred that BDS “seeks a world where Israel does not exist.” 

Additionally, in a now notorious March 2019 speech to the Council of American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles, Omar claimed, “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that Muslims in the U.S. were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”  

“Some people did something” and over 3,000 Americans were killed? Talk about minimizing the worst tragedy in American history. Incidentally, CAIR was founded in 1994. Omar, perhaps purposely, changed the date. 

To put it kindly, Democrats struggled to condemn iniquitous comments about Israel and Jews from Omar and her squadmate, the noxious Palestinian propagandist Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) — she of the appalling “Holocaust gives me a calming feeling” rant last May and “Impeach the MFer” the evening of her 2019 inauguration  — but Omar was conveniently not stripped of her Foreign Affairs Committee assignments, as many demanded, nor has she suffered any real punishment. Nancy Pelosi is not too brave.

It is thus no surprise that Omar and Tlaib support repugnant Bernie Sanders for president, a communist and the most anti Israel 2020 candidate. She’s also expressed a fondness for anti-Semitic socialist British politician Jeremy Corbyn, who failed massively in his December prime ministerial bid. 

In fact, Omar maintains outsized influence in the Democrat Party and is one of their top fundraisers (does hate sell?), though her donations and incessant corruption have come under scrutiny. 

Omar had at least nine violations of Minnesota campaign-finance law last year and, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “a pattern of carelessness and/or self-dealing with legally restricted funds.”

In a June piece, which was the most read all of 2019, the paper’s editorial board reprimanded her: 

“Omar’s political rise has been marred by a series of unforced errors, including intemperate remarks and tweets earlier this year that were widely perceived as anti-Semitic. Every month seems to bring a fresh problem. More is expected of her than the symbolism attached to her victory. Omar has a special obligation to be worthy of the trust so many have placed in her, including many still-new Americans who expect better.”

Even from a left-leaning newspaper, this excerpt is damning and not debatable. Never vetted before running for office, Omar continues refusing to answer questions or turn over documents that could debunk what she claims is conspiratorial. 

Investigators with multiple federal agencies finally began reviewing the alleged crimes committed by Omar Jan. 17, mostly centering around her marital history. These include perjury; immigration, student loan and tax fraud; and, yes, bigamy.

As a resident of Greater Minnesota, I can confirm that Omar, who was rushed into her current role by identity politics-obsessed liberals, is disliked across the state. By now she’s probably even alienating voters in the provincial D+28 Fifth congressional district; yet the Somali Muslim somehow faces limited primary opposition and, unless the nascent-but-impressive campaign of Iraqi refugee and war journalist Dalia al-Aqidi catches fire, Omar should win re-election this fall. 

Pres. Trump received just 19 percent of vote in 2016 in the radical urban fifth district, yet more than 50 percent in the rest of Minnesota. 

This was fellow Muslim Keith Ellison’s seat prior, and he was infamously antagonistic to Israel and Jews. Sadly, a place with the largest Jewish population in the Land of 10,000 Lakes — and one of the largest in the Midwest — has been deemed “the anti-Israel seat” since 2007.

Patriots, freedom lovers and honest brokers should continue to expose extremists like Ilhan Omar. When recent weeks saw a massive amount of anti-Jewish attacks in New York (highest in three decades), with a 40 percent national rise to over 1,000 per annum, why are such reprehensibly un-American, anti-Semitic actions tolerated or excused?

A former school teacher and military historian, Ari Kaufman has worked as a journalist in various roles since 2006. He has lived in 11 states and currently resides with his wife in Minnesota. 

Want more educational success? Support charter schools – Guest Opinion by Ari Kaufman

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Self-styled Progressives love to mock America as a “laughingstock” compared to the rest of the world in terms of obesity or gun violence or whatever topic they can obfuscate. 

One area where our great nation truly does lag behind the world is public education, a business solely owned and operated by the Left. And they have zero interest in remedying the failures; only the Right does.

Whereas the USA leads the world in everything from charitable giving, military might and medical innovation to technology, natural gas production and so many more laudable areas, any intellectually honest observer will note we fall far short in K-12 schooling.

In the wealthiest nation on earth, this is rather troubling. But the shortcomings in public education have nothing to do with money or results would have improved long ago. 

American taxpayers pay an absurd $20,000 per student per year from Kindergarten through 12th grade. That ridiculous amount is nearly double the global average of around $11,000. We also pay public school teachers on average more than any country. Yet the average student in Canada, China, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Korea, New Zealand, Norway and other nations that liberals tend to admire, consistently outperform the USA in every subject — despite spending less per pupil!

While no single policy solution can ameliorate these historic pitfalls going back nearly a century, because the issues are so vast, one area achieving grand success are charter schools and voucher programs. These initiatives, which began in 1992 in Minnesota, have long been deemed by scholars and conservative politicians as the “civil rights issue” of our time. The left talks a good game about “civil rights” when they seek votes and power, but on real matters, they balk.

I taught for five years in our country’s second largest school district — with one of the most aggressive and powerful teachers unions — and witnessed public education’s myriad issues firsthand in Los Angeles. I’ve documented them now for nearly two decades with a book and dozens of published articles in various newspapers.

Intense resistance to proven educational successes such as merit pay, tenure extension and any needed reform was intense; charter schools were specifically anathema. While Republicans have long supported charter schools and voucher programs, most Democrats are beholden to corrupt teachers unions and therefore do not. 

When asked about charter schools during their Sept. 12 presidential debate, leading Democrats, including Cory Booker who’s seen their success in his beloved Newark, conveniently tiptoed around the issue. He and the others on stage preferred to change the subject, bash the education secretary or, in the case of Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, angrily shout “pay teachers more” clichés. 

Charter and magnet schools are often based in local townships within a city’s boundaries, and thus, not bound by the bureaucracy and size of sclerotic large districts. Uniforms are frequently donned by diverse populations, discipline is enhanced, while students’ and teachers’ attitudes often change with liberation from outdated guidelines. These schools break the monopoly of “one-size-fits-all” education. Usually located just a few miles from urban decay, it’s a different world. 

Charter schools post higher results across the board than the traditional monopoly we’ve had from time immemorial. Further expansion of school choice options has the potential to liberate children, particularly poorer ones, from a dysfunctional education. The effort is worth it. Most of the country is on board; Democrat powers-that-be, teachers and unions protecting them are not.  They remain adept at perpetuating underachievement.

Evidence also shows more money for schools does not lead to success and often simply ways to waste the funds. In reform circles, there is the infamous Kansas City study, where the large district dramatically increased funding by billions in the 1980s and 1990s. This included increasing teacher salaries, adding glistening swimming pools, fancy computer labs and more. Was there an improvement in test scores and other quantitative results? Of course not. Nor was there more racial integration. Oops. This should be a telling lesson.

In addition to the absurd  “more money for schools” line peddled by vacuous politicians like Harris, a common ignorant retort toward education reformers is that those pushing for change are “anti school” or worse. With urban schools crippling our country’s most vulnerable (minority) children, advocating for experimentation with vouchers is actually “pro child.” It is progress. It is also consistent with America’s free market aspirations.

There were fewer than 2,500 charter schools when George W. Bush came into office. Eight years later, the number had doubled to nearly 5,000, and continues to grow a decade later. 

The former president’s words stand true today:

“These diverse, creative schools are proof that parents from all walks of life are willing to challenge the status quo if it means a better education for their children,” Bush said. “More competition and more choices for parents and students will raise the bar for everyone.”

Between the radical political agendas, insouciance toward students and lack of innovation, I ultimately lost the energy to keep teaching. Attempts to buck the trend and assist students were fought like the Battle of Antietam. I got along well with the parents and loved instructing the kids. But the resistance to change and browbeating of anyone seeking change demoralized me. 

Since leaving the profession and embarking on other careers, I published an entire book and dozens of articles on educational reform in various newspapers. I try so hard. Sadly, I continue to marvel at the preservation of a failed status quo. It clearly does not have to be this way.

“What is Ilhan Omar’s endgame”? – Guest piece by Ari Kaufman

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Coincidentally, my flight landed at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport just as Thursday’s now-infamous and sycophantic Ilhan Omar rally concluded.

The predominantly white and elderly crowd (retired teachers and assorted radicals) of activists I saw held signs with straw man  clichés (“Racism is not patriotic”), accompanied by the usual anti-Trump and anti-GOP rhetoric. There were maybe three dozen people in attendance, not “about 100 supporters mobbing Ms. Omar for a hero’s welcome” as a New York Times story noted. Some folks have jobs, you know. Perhaps even more media was present than attendees.

What exactly were they celebrating, though?

Rep. Omar’s views of the country that fought to save people like her in Somalia, allowed her family to settle here in freedom and, just a few years after graduating from a mediocre state college, jumpstart her national political career, remain ignorant and repugnant. Month after month of divisive and disingenuous venom from the first-term congresswoman deserves all the criticism and opprobrium we can muster.

This week, Omar transitions from making anti-Semitic comments to crafting anti-Semitic policy, when she introduces an offensive resolution supporting the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement—a rogue anti-Israel organization, supported by Hamas and other execrable global groups, whose actions embody historical examples of Jew-hatred, while inexplicably equating the Jewish State to Nazi Germany in the process.

The invidious resolution is symbolic anti-semitic propaganda that won’t garner public support in a wise nation that, unlike much of the world, overwhelmingly believes the Jewish people have right to exist in their homeland.

Aside from seeking attention and more fundraising opportunities (“follow the Benjamins,” indeed), Omar likely wants to get her fellow Democrats, including 2020 Presidential hopefuls, on the record. This should infuriate those candidates, including fellow Minnesota Democrat, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, currently among the crop of aspirants. Klobuchar happens to be openly pro-Israel, unlike many candidates including purported frontrunners Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Democrats, who already struggled mightily to condemn Omar’s numerous past abhorrent comments on Israel, Judaism, AIPAC and its “Benjamins” dominating U.S. policy on Israel, hope to delay the legislation amid fears of continued intra-party clashes. Not a bad idea, but sad too. Though Omar is safe in her provincial urban district, it should undoubtedly only alienate more Jews and Minnesotans from what her ilk believes is a “revolution.”

Tellingly, less than a year ago and before her election to Minnesota’s far left 5th Congressional district — ironically the most Jewish district in the state and nearly all the Midwest —  Omar told a crowd of Democrats at Beth El Synagogue that she opposes BDS, a group so bigoted that nearly 30 states have passed legislation banning organizations that support BDS from receiving state funds. The House Foreign Affairs Committee also passed a July 17 resolution accusing BDS of promoting “principles of collective guilt, mass punishment and group isolation.” What changed, Ilhan, or did you lie to placate gullible liberal Jews?

Lee Zeldin, a Jewish Iraq War veteran and congressman of Omar’s age, who has destroyed her since January on social media, tweeted, “Israel is our best ally in the Mid East; a beacon of hope, freedom and liberty, surrounded by existential threats. Shame on Rep Omar for bringing her hateful twist on that reality to House Foreign today, propping up the BDS movement and blaming Israel for all of its challenges.”

So Omar is hurting her party by augmenting the internecine war between liberals and the hard Left, dividing her district, ruining her brand, and giving a president she loathes more foil to expose her. What is her overarching goal?

Perhaps, as debated on Fox News, talk radio and occasionally the legacy media, the power within today’s Democratic Party is not with Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Steny Hoyer and party elders, but with inane “activists” like Omar and her vacuous media allies.

If President Trump wanted to call out the anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism of Omar’s so-called “squad,” there are more effective ways than to say, “go back where you came from”; but absent any check on their instincts, radicals like Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and other brainwashed young leftists will continue their commitment to, as one writer recently put it, “a special brand of ethnic and sectarian antagonism.”

And that hatred has troubling aspects for Democrats, Republicans, and the United States.