It was the boo heard around the world. Saturday marked both the start of Somali Week in the Twin Cities and Somali Independence Day. One might think that when the first elected Somali Muslim to serve in the U.S. Congress took to the stage in Minneapolis, she’d be greeted with adoring cheers. After all, it was the first North American performance by the Somali artist, Suldaan Seeraar, and a crowd of thousands were celebrating in downtown. Yet when Ilhan Omar was invited on stage to present him with an award, the founding matriarch of “the squad” was loudly booed instead. It went on for several uncomfortable minutes.
The video footage and viral tweets that captured this deluge of insults fast propelled the moment into an international media story. How could the progressive star of Minneapolis receive such an ice-cold reception? The answer may surprise you.
As the endorsed Republican candidate running for Congress against Ilhan Omar, I have spent the past year building the necessary coalitions to win this November. That includes reaching out to all communities to win over hearts and minds along with votes. Having spent time in the Somali community, it is rather clear they are not a voting monolith and that Ilhan Omar’s policies and rhetoric are increasingly unpopular among voting blocs she’s traditionally taken for granted. It’s not hard to see why.
Many of the Somalis in the Twin Cities have conservative values. They came to America to pursue a better life and to live in a safer place. Many of them have entrepreneurial spirits and have started their own businesses.
Ilhan Omar is a wrecking ball to their aspirations. For example, just last week she suggested that Minneapolis was more violent than the Somali refugee camp she fled as a kid. Imagine how insulting that sounds to those in her own community, who understand precisely what they left behind. If it were true, wouldn’t their elected officials bear some responsibility for turning Minneapolis into Gotham?
Minnesotans haven’t forgotten that she led the charge to defund the police. Thankfully, that Minneapolis ballot initiative failed last November because those she’s supposed to represent understood the risk it posed to their safety. A soaring crime rate can’t be papered over with fancy political slogans.
Like all Americans, Minnesotans are chafing under the inflation Biden’s policies have caused. But Ilhan Omar was undeterred. She continues to call for the canceling of all student debt. This embrace of class warfare would toss an additional $1.75 trillion worth of cold water on America’s barely sputtering economy.
The impact of spending trillions of dollars we don’t have, giving up our energy independence, and failing to address America’s glaring supply chain issues, have also taken a toll beyond the media’s ability to obscure. Public safety and pocketbook issues cut across all communities.
I believe we need to make it easier for individuals and small businesses to compete and succeed, rather than punishing success and stifling innovation in pursuit of a Marxist vision of equity. After all, the old adage is true: A rising tide lifts all boats.
So, will the awakening in the Somali community be enough to carry the red wave over the deep blue fifth congressional district in Minnesota this November? The assumption outside of the state is that Ilhan Omar is kept in office on the strength of the Somali vote and the Black inner-city vote. Naturally, they are surprised to learn that the district is only 16 percent Black – including the Somali community. The reality is that this district—Minneapolis and the surrounding western suburbs—is 63 percent white. The challenge is white liberal guilt.
A significant portion of the Somali community is undergoing an awakening. They understand that Ilhan Omar doesn’t have their interests at heart. Like many Minneapolis residents, they’re sick of being used as the nation’s crash test dummy for her dangerously woke policies.
Everyday I’m working to represent all the people of my district, rather than sowing division with identity politics as Omar does. My job is to reach out to these folks, dissolve the divide, and help them understand that it is OK to love America and to want nice things for their families. One of the more hopeful signs of the changing tide took place a few nights ago, in downtown Minneapolis, amidst a jeering cacophony of boos.
Cicely Davis is the Republican Party endorsed candidate running against Ilhan Omar in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District.