Crime, Race and Ilhan Omar

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Following Ilhan Omar’s close primary victory I want to give a couple of thoughts. The narrative in the corporate media is that the issue of policing divided this primary. Perhaps. But in what way?

I would contend that there already was a division on police. The main reason Omar didn’t do as well as her past two victories was voter turnout. The heinous murder of George Floyd/at-home voting propelled her in 2020 and the anti-Trump progressive wave galvanized her supporters in 2018.

The corporate media has practically been shouting Let’s Go Brandon! in an attempt to make Biden as interesting as Trump to no avail. But for once they did not blame Brandon for something and this was for Omar’s decline. But if we take their forecast that Biden is tanking the Democrats seriously at all we must conclude that he did indeed hurt the turnout in the primary, which in turn hurt Omar.

While Omar herself was one of the few wise enough to play Manchin-style hardball with Brandon’s bills the progressives as a whole leave quite a sour taste in one’s mouth as they capitulate with Biden’s corporate handouts. Worse still they lie to your face and tell you these are progressive bills. They stay silent as Biden wreaks the environment and breaks every campaign promise they had claimed to have won.

Perhaps I have a soft spot for Omar but I see her as one of the few who has even tried to stand up to the Democrats, which was why they rushed in money to try to beat her, if only at the last minute. Ahead on their priority list is of course funding Trump-endorsed candidates, supposedly so they can “beat” them but more likely so they can terrorize us with them.

The structural problem for the progressives remain is that there simply aren’t enough true progressives to make a difference. Therefore defeating Omar is not a top priority. Lefties who critique Omar sadly often don’t have any more substance than the right as most left commentary has simply become deranged anti-identity politics. That being said I of course have many critiques of Omar.

What I find more relevant though is the question of whether Omar’s slight victory was a commentary on people loving the police or whatever. Looking at the numbers her opponent Don Samuels did gain votes in Minneapolis as well as the suburbs. But that’s not what we should be looking at. Give Samuels credit if you want for gaining votes across the board but remember where the anti-Omar people already are.

Omar loses in the suburbs and wins big in the city. The city is where there is crime, such as it is, happens. Those who move to the suburbs often do so because they are afraid of crime already. But those who are the victims of said crime support Omar.

Now you might see what I’m getting at. Crime isn’t really crime here. Crime is code for dark skin. If one moves to the suburbs their supposed crime problem is already solved. But that’s not really what they’re after. They have anti-social and anti-solitary tendencies that drive them to isolation as they gain property and from here their politics become even more reactionary.

Soon enough they are reacting against ghosts in their heads and the original materialist question of crime morphs into a general tirade against wokeness and minorities. That being said of course crime is “real” just as the sun and the stars are. But those who are victims of crime support Omar, or even more often, can’t or don’t vote at all because they know how that works out for them.

All I’m saying here is that people aren’t voting on crime. Those who vote against Omar vote against community-based life specifically amongst races and those who vote for her support wholistic approaches to solving poverty, climate, etc.

People who suffer from crime often also suffer from hunger and are more likely to be impacted by a bill such as Omar’s Maintaining Essential Access to Lunch for Students (MEALS) Act which she extended amidst Trump trying to end it. But remember according to most of the highly paid “populist” influencers Trump represents the poor while Ilhan has way too much money, sleeps around too much and is generally far too loud and divisive when she should be teaming up with fascists to speak to the “real” working class.

Omar was taken to task because she supported a bill that reformed the Minneapolis police while her opponent was against this paltry reform. Perhaps one could critique Omar for supporting reform, but she faces even more heat when she stands up to Brandon’s infrastructure bill. But think about the anti-reformism of her supposedly “moderate” opponent who like his fellow party mates falsely claimed that this modest reform was akin to defunding the police entirely.

The fact that the leadership of the Democratic Party mobilized against even a basic reform of Minneapolis police shows the limit of a strategy of promoting Democrat progressives like Omar, regardless of one’s feeling of if she is progressive enough. The problem isn’t necessarily that our few people aren’t radical enough it’s more so that there are too few people. Once enough people are organized then we can deal with the lack of radicalism.

Unfortunately, many of those claiming to be radical leftists who focus only on dunking on Ilhan Omar and not on addressing the issues at hand are only playing a role. Just as those claiming to be anti-racists are also clearly playing a role as they get behind the police. Perhaps I was seen as such an apologist at one point, and perhaps that was fair, but my main point holds, that the white supremacist rot in the greater Minneapolis area goes far deeper than the police.

While I don’t buy into all the fearmongering about the death of the progressives I will admit that Omar’s decline, even though she was up against the establishment, is a reminder that the supposed radical liberal energized by Trump was likely a racist the whole time and their hatred for Trump was a sort of class hatred, where Trump said their fears out loud, rather than hiding them behind anti-racist slogans.

Suburbia is a kind of wall, just built in a different direction. The anti-crime vote is up which doesn’t tell me that crime is up. It merely tells me that racism is. Disentangling those two things is theoretically possible but remains as difficult and unlikely as getting progressives to take over the Democratic Party.

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at