Fibonacci Blue/Flickr @uhshanti/Twitter Kris Seavers

Ilhan Omar responds to ‘Give Ilhan a Gundam’ memes

Gundam gang, rise up.

Jan 10, 2020, 1:30 pm

Internet Culture

Alex Dalbey 

Alex Dalbey

Nerdy supporters Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) were surprised and overjoyed on Thursday when the congresswoman finally acknowledged a growing meme demand: “Give Ilhan a Gundam.”

Although Omar is only serving her first term in Congress, she quickly became a favorite among progressives who support policies like the Green New Deal and student loan forgiveness. She’s made a name for herself as a member of The Squad, a group of freshmen congresswomen of color from four different states, and is a vocal supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) on the presidential primary campaign trail.

But political opponents have also made a name for Omar, targeting her with misleading quotes and false claims. Trump tweeted a heavily edited video of a speech she gave interspersed with clips of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. While she is inundated with these attacks and even death threats, there’s a growing movement to defend her—with memes. One call to action stood out and took hold: “Defend Ilhan and build her a Gundam.”

A Gundam is, in short, a “mobile suit” mecha, or a giant robot exoskeleton that is piloted by someone riding inside. It comes from the sci-fi franchise Gundam, which began with a TV series in 1979 and is now a staple of anime. The meme eventually made its way to the Sanders campaign, where an organizing director, Jack Califano, made a joke issues page for “Give Ilhan Omar a Gundam.” The text of the spoofed page reads, in part, “When I am President, we will finally give her a Gundam.”

On Thursday Omar retweeted the picture, saying, “Another reason I’m proud to support @BernieSanders 😜”

https://twitter.com/IlhanMN/status/1215429492459655170?s=19

Twitter erupted at Omar acknowledging the meme. People alternatively praised and doubted her familiarity with Gundam, theorized on what model she would pilot, and criticized other politicians for not taking a stance on this important issue.

Even if Omar (or any congressperson) will almost certainly never get a Gundam, it’s fun to think about what her custom mobile suit would look like—and to consider where she could park it in Washington, D.C.

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*First Published: Jan 10, 2020, 1:30 pm