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Ilhan Omar recounts ‘hateful’ taunts by Washington, D.C. cab driver

MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley
Ilhan Omar

MPR has a story on Ilhan Omar’s trip to D.C.: “Ilhan Omar made history on Nov. 8 when she won a Minnesota House seat and prepared to become the nation’s first Somali-American legislator. On Wednesday, she said she was the victim of Islamophobic hate in Washington, D.C. The Minneapolis community organizer was in Washington Tuesday for public policy meetings at the White House. ‘On my way to our hotel, I got in a cab and became subjected to the most hateful, derogatory, Islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats I have ever experienced,’ Omar wrote in a Facebook post. ‘The cab driver called me ISIS and threatened to remove my hijab. I wasn’t really sure how this encounter would end,’ she wrote, adding that she rushed out of the cab.”

You knew this was coming. In the Chicago Tribune, Kim Janssen reports: “Would-be Democratic National Committee Chairman U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison has been catching hell from conservatives and enemies within his own party for his past ties to South Side firebrand Louis Farrakhan. Now the Nation of Islam itself is piling on, accusing Ellison of being a ‘hypocrite’ and seeking to embarrass him for what it called his ‘cowardly and baseless repudiation’ of the controversial South Side-based religious leader he once supported, and who once infamously called Judaism a ‘gutter religion.’” 

In The Nation, John Nichols writes about Ellison: “American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten — a firm supporter of Israel who supported Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination when Ellison was backing Bernie Sanders — defended the congressman, emphatically. … J Street, the ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ group that has earned wide regard for its advocacy on behalf of diplomacy in the Middle East, joined the defense of Ellison.”

Meanwhile, look who turns up with a piece for The Hill: longtime Minnesota political activists Sam and Sylvia Kaplan, who write, “What impresses us the most about Ellison, however, is his ability to bring diverse constituencies together. As the first Muslim elected to Congress and the first African-American to represent Minnesota — from a 63 percent white district — Ellison  is a powerful symbol of our country’s core values of diversity and inclusion. But his work has gone beyond symbolism to a true commitment to interfaith understanding and tolerance. We are active members of the Minneapolis Jewish community and have served in leadership positions in many Jewish social service agencies and charities. We have been continually impressed with Ellison ’s efforts throughout his career to battle anti-Semitism around the world.”

A mystery. A FOX 9 story says, “Morrison County officials are asking for the public’s help in recovering the gun believed to be stolen during a hunter’s death on Nov. 7. His death is now considered a homicide investigation. Terrence Brisk of Belle Prairie Township died from blood loss resulting from a gunshot wound, according to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office. …The gun, a Winchester Model AE 30-30 lever action rifle, is described as an older model with a wooden stock and forearm, with no sling attached. Brisk was known to carry the rifle in the woods while hunting, but officials haven’t found it.”

Here’s what LGBTQ Nation has to say about the religious right couple protesting in court about being forced to video gay weddings: Says Dawn Ennis, “Of all the stories about far right conservative Christian business owners who sue in court for legal cover to discriminate against same-sex couples and their right to marry, this one takes the cake.  … Of course, they aren’t doing this all on their own. They have the backing of a powerful right-wing conservative Christian group that fights for religious freedom around the world, the Alliance Defending Freedom.”

Coincidentally, the couple in question turns up with a commentary in the Strib. Writes Carl Larsen, “Whether we’re directing live events, running cameras, editing, or writing a script, we are in the business of telling great stories that honor God and amaze our clients. … Minnesota has really left us with three bad options: We can (1) create films that violate our deepest beliefs, (2) decline to create such films — and suffer the consequences of investigation, prosecution and maybe even jail time, or (3) avoid those consequences by censoring our own speech and creative output regarding marriage.” If anyone around here is putting together a “Dubious Achievements” Awards list, this guy and the angelic Mrs. should get one for The Longest Reach for Victimhood.

Why was this a thing, then? Says Shannon Prather for the Strib, “Gov. Mark Dayton and prominent Republicans may be the ones sparring over the rehanging of controversial paintings in the newly remodeled State Capitol. But under state law, it’s the nonprofit Minnesota Historical Society that will make the final decision about what gets displayed and what gets mothballed. On Thursday, the 30-member executive council of the Minnesota Historical Society, or MHS, is expected to decide the future of six massive and priceless paintings that depict Minnesota soldiers in Civil War battles.”

What, no boat? Beena Rahavendran of the Strib reports, “A former Minneapolis principal has been charged with using a Minneapolis Public Schools district credit card for thousands of dollars in personal expenses. Anne DePerry, formerly principal at Whittier International Elementary, is expected to make her first appearance Thursday in Hennepin County District Court on three counts of felony theft by swindle. … A Star Tribune data request of DePerry’s charges from January through October 2015 listed spending on her district-issued purchase card, including charges of more than $500 at an Apple store, more than $1,000 for automotive parts and more than $400 at duty-free stores.”

The flap over the local trucking company who shut down and refused to pay workers back wages, even while re-opening under another name, isn’t going away. For GoMN (part of GO radio) Aren Uren reports, “Lt. Gov. Tina Smith on Tuesday accused Lakeville Motor Express of “wage theft.” She announced the company will be the subject of a probe by the state labor department after it laid off workers without warning last month, saying it didn’t have money to pay wages or vendors. … Her office claims the company continues to trade ‘with the same management and trucks’ under a different name, Finish Line Express (FLE) in Maple Grove. GoMN called FLE and a spokesman said they are ‘completely separate’ from Lakeville Motor Express.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Tim Walker on 12/08/2016 - 07:37 am.

    Color me surprised

    I’m surprised that LGBTQ Nation described the Alliance Defending Freedom as a “right-wing conservative Christian group that fights for religious freedom around the world.”

    A more apt description is a “right-wing conservative Christian group that fights for religious-based discrimination around the world.”

  2. Submitted by Susan Maricle on 12/08/2016 - 07:54 am.

    This can only be good news.

    Considering the toxic reputation the NOI has. their denunciation of Keith Ellison can only help.

  3. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/08/2016 - 11:15 am.

    Ilhan Omar

    The Pioneer Press is not taking online comments for the Ilhan Omar story. Anyone care to guess why? No? Too easy?

    • Submitted by Robert Owen on 12/09/2016 - 07:15 am.

      Maybe the Pioneer Press doesn’t want readers asking questions the reporter didn’t ask.

      How will someone in a somewhat high profile public position deal with difficult constituents if she allegedly runs away from a rude cab driver? Has she filed a complaint with the DC Dept. of For Hire Vehicles? Did she report this to the police?

      The PP article was nothing more than restating Omar’s Facebook post. In our new “fake news” era wouldn’t a reporter think to ask some questions or tell us that Omar refused to answer any questions?

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/09/2016 - 09:16 am.

        Or Maybe

        Could it be that the Pioneer Press has the occasional bout of revulsion at its website being a bulletin board for hate-filled racist vitriol? You have to wonder.

      • Submitted by Tim Walker on 12/09/2016 - 09:48 am.


        You ask: “How will someone in a somewhat high profile public position deal with difficult constituents if she allegedly runs away from a rude cab driver?”

        You equate leaving a situation where an extremely verbally agressive and hostile person would have nearly complete control over you (sitting in a moving cab) with “dealing with a difficult constituent”?


        Do you really think those two scenarios are equvalent?

        Would you stay in a cab if the driver was agressively threatening you?

        And if you left, do you think it would be fair if someone therefore accused you of being unable to cope with difficult people?

        Do you not realize the peronal safety differences involved?

  4. Submitted by Tim Droogsma on 12/08/2016 - 12:58 pm.

    Do we know this happened?

    Having ridden in a number of D.C. cabs over the years and having visited with many drivers about their (largely Muslim) backgrounds, I find Ms. Omar’s claims a little suspect. Do we have any independent verification that this incident even took place? It just seems a little too convenient a story, and she is hardly entitled to the benefit of the doubt, given her struggles with the truth about her marriages.

    I’m old enough to remember when journalists actually asked questions about the assertions of public officials, rather than just serving as stenographers for whatever tall tale the politician wanted to spin.

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