Rep. Ayanna Pressley came to the defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar this week, after the Minnesota congresswoman’s remarks about having PTSD from her early childhood in war-torn Somalia were mocked by Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
During a press conference Wednesday, Omar said she felt “ill” and “stricken with PTSD” when she heard “conversations around war,” following President Donald Trump’s military actions against Iran.
Her comments about having post-traumatic stress disorder from the experience was criticized Wednesday by at least one Republican congressman as “offensive” to American military veterans. And Ingraham shortly thereafter piled on.
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
“Call the medic!” she tweeted, adding that Omar’s comments last August about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — which some Republicans construed as “dismissive” of the attacks — “made a lot of American way more ill (and angry).”
In response, Pressley noted that Omar was 8 years old when she and her family fled their civil-war ravaged country to the United States as refugees in the 1990s (Omar made it to the United States when she was 12, after spending four years in a Kenyan refugee camp).
“I know you think war’s a for profit video game,” Pressley tweeted at Ingraham, “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.”
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
The Massachusetts congresswoman was echoed by several fellow Democrats. Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan called Ingraham’s comments “despicable.” Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego noted Thursday that the House had “heard our white female colleagues talk about their PTSD from domestic violence” without any backlash.
“Trauma is trauma,” former Missouri attorney general and Army veteran Jason Kander tweeted. “A uniform is not required.”
In response to Rep. Jim Banks, the Indiana Republican who called her comments “offensive,” Omar reiterated that she deals with PTSD “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,” she wrote.
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
Banks (a Navy veteran himself) and Ingraham subsequently changed the subject to footage that showed Omar briefly sharing a laugh with a fellow congresswoman at another point during the press conference Wednesday.
The back-and-forth comes ahead of a scheduled House vote Thursday to limit Trump’s power to take military action against Iran without congressional approval.
Perhaps ironically, Omar and Ingraham have come to share a degree of overlap when it comes to escalating tensions in the Middle East. Based on her experience living in a “war zone,” Omar has warned that military action would only result in more violence and further destabilize the Middle East. Ingraham, who previously supported invading Iraq, is now warning Trump against further military action against Iran, per Mediaite.
‘The president I think is very smart enough to know that another war of choice or needless escalation will end up harming American interests, not to speak of his reelection chances,” she said on her show Tuesday.