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Far-right trolls are circulating a fake quote intending to depict Minnesota’s Democratic Representative-elect Ilhan Omar as racist and already some social media users are threatening her over it.
The inflammatory meme, which first appeared on Facebook, uses Omar’s picture from a recent Time magazine cover and features a fabricated quote captioned beneath.
“I am America’s hope and the president’s nightmare,” the text reads. “I think all white men should be put in chains as slaves because they will never submit to Islam.”
The first half of the quote is real, spoken by Omar during in response to a question with that framing on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in July 2017, but the second portion about “white men” is completely fake.
The meme was flagged as in violation of Facebook’s rules to combat fake news and misinformation, but by that time it had already spread across the internet.
On Twitter, it went viral as some users pushed the quote as truth.
Omar responded dismissively in a tweet on Monday.
Who said facts mattered? 🤷🏽♀️ pic.twitter.com/LMomzRrLZj— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 19, 2018
Many Twitter users rallied around her in support.
I am so sorry Ilhan. This is disgraceful & hurtful. And I know from personal experience that when folks lie about you, it can incite violence. Be strong - we will be with you. Btw, you are America’s hope - & it’s promise of being an open, inclusive, & respectful democracy.— James J. Zogby (@jjz1600) November 19, 2018
Sorry Ilhan, millions have your back literally. Stay strong, and know change is coming. You are part of that change. I am looking forward to you being in Congress, it's going to be a lot more potent and magical with you there.— Veti (@Vetipie) November 19, 2018
Fellow Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that the racist conspiracy against Omar as “completely unacceptable” and criticized social media platforms for failing to act.
That the right is mobilizing fake quotes, conspiracies + outright hatred, particularly on Congresswomen of color, shows how vapid they are on actual issues.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 19, 2018
The racism allowed towards Ilhan + others is completely unacceptable. @Facebook has clearly lost control of their product. https://t.co/vqRaM3iAjX
^^ also to mention that this isn’t an issue confined to FB - @Twitter struggles with hate speech + fake accounts as well. Whenever a major news event pops up, I see farms of fake accounts that rise up to influence discourse + spread disinformation.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 19, 2018
We need to get it together.
Unfortunately, this kind of prejudice and targeted attacks by the far-right are something that Omar has regularly come face-to-face with since she publicly announced her candidacy for Congress.
Omar, a Somali-American woman who came to the U.S. as a refugee, joined Rashida Tlaib in winning their congressional races in early November to become the first Muslim women members of the House of Representatives.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology.