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Don't Tell Trump: Minnesota Is About to Elect a Pioneering Somali-American Muslim Woman

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It matters that Ilhan Omar will be elected to the Minnesota state legislature on the same day that Minnesotans reject Donald Trump.

Somali Activist Wins Minneapolis District Democratic Primary
Somali Activist Wins Minneapolis District Democratic Primary
(Image by wjon.com)
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Donald Trump went to Minnesota Sunday, seeking a "path to victory" in a state that has not voted for a Republican for president since 1972. It was an absurd turn on the campaign trail, which appears to have been motivated by the racism and xenophobia of the Republican presidential nominee and his team rather than any political logic.

The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are home to the nation's largest community of Somali Americans, and Trump came in hopes of turning their neighbors against them.

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"Here in Minnesota, you've seen firsthand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with very large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state without your knowledge, without your support or approval," Trump told the crowd at his rally in an airplane hangar near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Exploiting isolated incidents to suggest that the predominantly Muslim Somali community poses a threat -- with "some of them joining ISIS and spreading their extremist views all over our country and all over the world" -- Trump claimed: "You don't even have the right to talk about it. You don't even know who's coming in. You'll find out. You'll find out."

That was a false statement. As was Trump's claim that Democrat Hillary Clinton's approach to refugee resettlement would "import generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism into your schools and communities."

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Despite Trump's fierce rhetoric during his brief visit, Clinton is expected to win Minnesota with ease on Tuesday. And that won't be the only rebuke to Trump and Trumpism.

Minneapolis voters are expected to endorse the candidacy of the first Somali-American woman to hold elected public office in the United States. Ilhan Omar, the Democratic nominee for a state House seat in an overwhelmingly Democratic district, was born in Somalia in 1982 and lived in a Kenyan refugee camp before settling in Minnesota in 1997. With a long history of political activism, this Paul Wellstone-style progressive says, "It matters that I am a woman. It matters that I am a Somali-American woman. It matters that I am a Muslim and immigrant woman. It matters that our campaign won the primary by creating a multicultural coalition."

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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