Ilhan Omar: Shaking Things Up

New Congressional Rep. Ilhan Omar has not, shall we say, been keeping her head down as a freshman Congresswoman.

Essentially nothing wrong with that. She has been a bold and strong messenger ever since she exploded on the Minnesota political scene.

And her ideas on policy are not wrong. There is plenty about US foreign policy that needs to be questioned and addressed.

But she is stepping on her own message. She seems to prefer the incendiary, attention seeking language. And, frankly, that has a place at times. But to use language and themes that are insensitive and charged drowns out that message and allows everyone to focus on personality rather than policy.

Since winning the 5th District election she has joined a group of young, message driven women that became new members of the Congressional House. Her uniqueness as a young, black Muslim woman in Congress was attention getting and the press flocked to her like bees to honey.

But her inexperience in these matters shows. She has not been careful with her words. She has been less thoughtful than a seasoned representative would be when forwarding policy preferences. And she has somewhat abused her instant fame.

But she is not wrong either. The US policy toward Israel needs to be examined. The two state solution that the US is supposed to be shepherding has become a one state listening session under Trump. If Rep. Omar had concentrated on that without the bitter language of the past, she could be leading a strong policy discussion rather than having to defend herself constantly. And more recently, her criticism of Obama policies could have sparked another set of serious discussions, but once again, she preferred the attention getting language that drowned out her ideas.

Rep. Omar will continue to garner attention and that is a good thing. But she also needs to examine how her message is made public. She cannot continue to make herself the distraction…and I think she knows that.

As a black Muslim woman, she has attracted a number of high profile, volatile critics as well. And they are not holding back on their own incendiary language in regards to her visibility. That will make things difficult for her but also gives her an opportunity to expose the Islamophobia that sits behind those critiques.

I hope that as time goes on, Rep. Omar will learn a method of debate that is more seasoned and mature in the ways of Washington. There is nothing wrong with garnering attention, but that is the easy part for her.

Now she needs to learn the art of effectiveness as well.

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