President Donald Trump on Wednesday retweeted a far-right Twitter personality’s false claim, which accused Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) of dancing on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In fact, the video of Omar dancing is from another day.
The original tweet from Terrence K. Williams -- which has since been deleted -- claimed Ilhan “partied on the anniversary of 9/11 because she believes ‘Some People Just Did Somethings.’” For his part, Trump fashioned his tweet into electoral terms, declaring that Omar would help him to win “the Great State of Minnesota.”
The video was shot at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s recent conference, which was held from Wednesday, September 11, through Sunday, September 15. It was posted on Twitter Friday night and had a time and date stamp of September 13. (And it went viral over the weekend.) Since this year’s 9/11 anniversary was a Wednesday, it makes more sense for the CBC Foundation to be partying on a Friday night.
The Daily Caller picked up on Trump’s post and published an article with the terrible headline “Trump Reacts To Ilhan Omar Dancing On The Anniversary Week Of 9/11.” (The text of the article acknowledged that the “dancing video was not actually posted on September 11th.”)
Williams’ original tweet was also tweeted by Fox News contributor Sara A. Carter — who bills herself in her profile as a national security and war correspondent.
The now-deleted tweet by Williams and Trump’s amplification of it further two fraudulent right-wing narratives. Firstly, the right-wing media launched a series of attacks this past April against Omar for her comment during a recent speech to a chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) about the prejudices faced by Muslim Americans after the 9/11 attacks. “CAIR was founded after 9/11,” she had said, “because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”
As Media Matters’ Parker Molloy has previously written on this subject:
In context, what she said was clear: No matter how “good” American Muslims are, they’ll continue to be treated as second-class citizens because of anti-Muslim attitudes and government policies that intensified in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. American Muslims are still treated with suspicion and subjected to undue scrutiny by the government and public alike. The argument Omar was making in her speech was very clearly about how unfair it is to be lumped in with terrorists and constantly stereotyped on the basis of faith. While saying this, she referred to the 9/11 hijackers as “some people.” When put in context, that choice of words was clearly meant to differentiate between terrorists and American Muslims. The controversy surrounding this line (in bold below) is based on misinterpreting what she said as downplaying the 9/11 attacks -- something that she never did.
Secondly, attacking a video of Omar dancing (in any setting) cannot help but also call to mind yet another bigoted remark Trump has made about 9/11: He claimed in 2015 that on 9/11 he saw “thousands and thousands of people” cheering in Jersey City, New Jersey, “as that building was coming down.” Extensive fact-checking of this claim has revealed at most reports of a small group of teenagers shouting and banging on trash cans, before being dispersed — and not even in that city. (In terms of celebrating, Trump himself did appear to brag on 9/11 that his building was now the tallest in downtown Manhattan -- a wild reaction which wasn't even true.)
As for Williams, he has a prolific Twitter presence; one researcher has found that he has been responsible for over 20 far-right hashtags trending. Trump has also retweeted him before. Before the president of the United States shared the misleadingly edited video about Omar, it was shared by an apparent QAnon conspiracy theorist who is running against Omar in 2020.