This morning state Senator Oley Larsen, a Republican from Minot, finally got around to addressing the controversy over a false Facebook meme he shared claiming controversial Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was trained by al Qaeda. In other posts he also called her a terrorist.
He apologizes for sharing inaccurate information, but says: “I want to be clear, this is by no means an apology to Ilhan Omar.”
But shouldn’t it be an apology to Omar? Larsen doesn’t have to like her or her politics, but he claimed she was trained by al Qaeda. It was a completely bogus claim, and when you do that to someone, the decent thing to do is apologize even if they are your political enemy.
Put simply, if you call someone a terrorist and they’re not, you know, a terrorist, you should say you’re sorry.
He also says he’s not resigning from his post as interim president protem of the Senate, nor his he resigning from his Senate seat.
The voters of Larsen’s legislative district are the only people who really get a say in the latter. For the former, the full Senate chamber could vote to remove him from the seat.
You can read the whole post below. Oley made it on his personal Facebook page, but you can also read a version he sent to the Fargo Forum, which includes links for some of his claims.
Here’s an excerpt. I’m not fact-checking Larsen’s claims, for now, but will caution you readers at this point not to buy into something just because Senator Larsen says it:
Although there is no evidence that she has directly engaged in terrorist activity, there is ample evidence that she is grossly sympathetic to the cause of certain religious extremists. As a Minnesota State Rep., Omar actively lobbied a judge to be lenient with two men convicted of terrorism and trying to join ISIS. Imagine if a white conservative representative wrote a letter advocating for less harsh sentences for Klansmen and white supremacists. The media and the public would be outraged and rightfully so. Luckily for Ilhan Omar, a complicit press dismissed this episode as an anti-Islamic conspiracy. Ms. Omar defended her position as restorative justice but has shown no interest in advocating on behalf for [sic] other racial and religious extremists, which is quite possibly the only silver lining to her farce.
Nothing Larsen has to say now about Rep. Omar’s authentic and problematic connections to extreme points of view about Israel and the 9/11 attacks (among other topics) have been undermined by his initial utterly false and absurd claim that she was trained by al Qaeda.
Larsen and his nonsense, along with his supporters, are collectively making it harder to campaign against and defeat Ilhan Omar. I’ve been accused of being some sort of fake conservative for being so critical of Larsen over this matter, but how in the world is it conservative to help a very far left, very extreme congresswoman entrench herself?
Larsen also claims he’s not a racist, and I guess his logic is that it’s not racism to hate Muslims because “Muslim” isn’t a race:
Some voices have called me racist, asserting that I believe all Muslims are terrorists. This absurd smear ignorantly conflates race and religion for the purposes of attacking me. As a Native American man, and [sic] enrolled member of Kluane First Nation, I’m well aware of the historic injustices faced by minority communities in our nation. However, Ilhan Omar openly seeks to undermine the interest and security of our nation and the media cowardly allows her to hide behind the facade of her protected class status.
UPDATE: I fact-checked Larsen’s claim that he’s a member of the Kluane First Nation. I spoke with a tribal official this morning, and they confirmed it.
It’s a bit silly to split hairs on whether or not bigotry aimed at Muslims is racism, specifically. Being Muslim is very much an ethnic identity. If you hate someone because of their ethnic identity that’s, well, pretty much racism. Parsing the issue only makes those doing the parsing look kind of dumb.
If you’d rather we use a term like bigotry, instead of racism, then fine.
How is that a defense of Larsen?
If Senator Larsen thinks he can fend off criticism with that particular sword, he should realize he’s wielding a limp noodle.
Here’s his full post: