Ilhan Omar: GOP calls to put student protesters on terror watch list ‘insanely dangerous’

Raw Story

Julia Conley

May 1st, 2024

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar on Tuesday urged her colleagues to condemn the latest Republican threat against the thousands of university students and faculty who have protested U.S. complicity in Israel’s assault on Gaza, after Sen. Marsha Blackburn suggested the protesters have “promoted terrorism” and called for them to be surveilled by the federal government.

“Any student who has promoted terrorism or engaged in terrorist acts on behalf of Hamas should be immediately added to the terrorist watch list and placed on the [Transportation Security Administration] No-Fly List,” said the Tennessee Republican.

Blackburn’s comments came nearly two weeks after a solidarity encampment set up by students at Columbia University—and the suspension and arrests of more than 100 participants—galvanized students at dozens of schools across the United States and around the world to call for their institutions to divest from Israel and for the U.S. to cut off military funding for the Middle Eastern country.

More than 1,000 students, educators, and other supporters have been arrested, with videos of particularly aggressive police responses at schools including Emory University in Atlanta, Washington University in St. Louis, and University of Texas at Austin further sparking anger among opponents of Israel’s bombardment.

Omar (D-Minn.) called Blackburn’s comments “insanely dangerous.”

Blackburn previously denounced the protesters as “unruly” and “terrorist sympathizers.”

Numerous reports have described how the anti-war protests have been peaceful until police officers began violently arresting attendees, while opponents have shared “escalating unhinged calls to crack down” on the demonstrations, said Intercept reporter Murtaza Hussain.

Also on Tuesday, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) wrote to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, urging him “investigate and prosecute” organizers of the protests” and accusing them of “conspiring to violate the civil rights of a religious minority,” referring to Jewish Americans.

Last week, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) called on President Joe Biden to summon the National Guard to clamp down on the protests.

Johnson’s call was echoed by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).

“The calls from Cotton and Hawley to deploy the National Guard are not about anyone’s safety—many of the pro-Palestinian protesters, against whom the might of the U.S. military would be aimed, are Jewish,” wrote Adam Serwer at The Atlantic. He recalled that in 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard fatally shot four young students at Kent State University.

“Sending the National Guard to campuses facing Vietnam War protests led to students being killed, including some who had nothing to do with the protests, rather than to anyone being safer,” wrote Serwer. “The most likely outcome based on past precedent would be an escalation to serious violence. Which might be the idea.”