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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.”
ilhan Omar should recieve a Gundam, free of charge— hellpig (@toiletgun) April 13, 2019
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.”
You heard the man. pic.twitter.com/MBZlOLxVas— Jack Califano (@jackcalifano) January 9, 2020
On Thursday Omar retweeted the picture, saying, “Another reason I’m proud to support @BernieSanders 😜”
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.
give Ilhan Omar a vf-19 custom that she flies around like nekki basara— Perry! (@experimilk) January 10, 2020
Some of yall need to stop watching Gundam and pick up some macross
Joe Biden's silence on the issue of giving Ilhan Omar a Gundam is deafening.— Alex Eagles (@lexeagles93) January 9, 2020
I just wanna know if Ilhan Omar was already familiar with Gundam, and if not I want the transcript of the conversation where not only was it explained but this tweet was composed and okayed https://t.co/Kd0I7rnmcz— F*cko the Button-Up Muppet (@porfenablah) January 10, 2020
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.
Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They have written for The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, The Lingerie Addict, and Bullet Points.