The casual inhumanity and racist cruelty of modern Republicans was put on full display this week when Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana decided to bully his fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MI) for publicly stating that the crisis in Iran had triggered her post-traumatic stress disorder.
Incapable of feeling any empathy for a Muslim woman of color and determined to erase her suffering for a cheap bit of asinine “but what about muh troooops” wankery, Banks told her she was “a disgrace” and said that it was offensive to our veterans that a woman who grew up in a warzone and spent her formative years in a refugee camp might have some residual trauma.
Rep. Ilhan Omar complained she’s “stricken with PTSD” because of recent events in the Middle East.
This is a disgrace and offensive to our nation’s veterans who really do have PTSD after putting their life on the line to keep America safe. pic.twitter.com/twhZDuUDu0
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) January 8, 2020
Banks was immediately joined by right-wing white supremacist media jackal Laura Ingraham, who mocked her pain and piled on with wildly racist (and false) accusations that Omar supported terrorists.
Call the medic! @IlhanMN says she feels “ill a little bit” with all this talk of conflict with Iran. Well, I’m sure her dismissive talk of al Qaeda and 9/11 made a lot of Americans feel way more ill (and angry). https://t.co/JGaKAeonCt
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) January 8, 2020
For Republicans to try to discredit a war survivor’s PTSD in ostensible defense of “our veterans” makes it clear once again that our veterans and their suffering mean absolutely nothing to them but a convenient pawn for them to trot out and use like a political hood to disguise their racism and their monstrous lack of empathy.
It is impossible for most Americans to conceive of what millions of people like Ilhan Omar had to go through as a child, and it is beyond repulsive to see our elected officials responding to efforts to talk about mental trauma this way.
Unfazed, Ilhan Omar and other Democrats were quick to fire back, calling out Ingraham and Banks for their appalling smears and putting them in their place.
I survived war as a child and deal with post-traumatic stress disorder—much like many who have served or lived through war.
It’s shameful that you as a member of Congress would erase the PTSD of survivors. pic.twitter.com/QdDBKDSOCS
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 8, 2020
War trauma never leaves you.
Engaging in armed conflict never creates stability. It only costs lives and futures.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 9, 2020
8 yrs old. That’s how old @IlhanMN was when she fled for her life as her home was decimated by war
I know you think war’s a for profit video game @IngrahamAngle but you’d be wise to take a seat and take your cues from folks like Ilhan who actually know what they’re talking about pic.twitter.com/9a0XfFPfwP
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) January 8, 2020
They were even joined by war veterans who spoke out in her defense and in defense of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who suffer from PTSD.
This is a tremendously ignorant thing to say.
Veterans like us know that people wearing uniforms aren’t the only ones impacted by war.@Ilhan is a refugee. We stand with her against hawkish elites like you. #VetsForIlhan #EndForeverWar https://t.co/oIE3iWZGK9
— Common Defense (@commondefense) January 8, 2020
On the house floor we have heard our white female colleagues talk about their PTSD from domestic violence. It’s odd that you never called them out. https://t.co/lKp55FeoOv
— Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) January 9, 2020
Rep. Banks, You and I spent a few months in Afghanistan.
Rep. Omar grew up in war-torn Somalia before spending years in a Kenyan refugee camp on the Somali border.
It’s not up to us to decide who is and is not “worthy” of PTSD.
Trauma is trauma. A uniform is not required. https://t.co/1IPpKviNrE
— Jason Kander (@JasonKander) January 9, 2020
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.