“This hatred and division and paranoia and anxiety sown by this president are dangerous, and the consequences frankly are mortal for our fellow Americans,’’ he added. “He is using the oldest play in the book: fear and division.”
Zahra Billoo, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations chapter in the San Francisco Bay Area, said that, “as a Muslim and a woman of color and a daughter of immigrants,” these moments help give her clarity on who is willing to stand up for her community.
While acknowledging that most voters won’t be aware of the fine gradations between the various statements, or the times they were released, Ms. Billoo said the moments in aggregate can help create an impression about which candidates can be trusted by historically marginalized communities.
“We are seeing a shift in the Democratic Party where there’s a fracture,” Ms. Billoo said in a phone interview. “One side being moderate, even timid. And the emerging side of the party is stepping up to the plate, and recognizing that we’re in an unprecedented moment in time.”
“I’m more invested in the candidates who are willing to speak up and call it what it is,” she said.
The statement from Ms. Gillibrand, in particular, raised eyebrows in politically active circles. Though she has sought to cast herself as full-throated progressive, she qualified her support for Ms. Omar by saying, “As a Senator who represents 9/11 victims, I can’t accept any minimizing of that pain.” Critics lashed back, saying her comments only gave more credence to the slew of misinformation surrounding Ms. Omar.
Ms. Epps-Addison called it shameful, as did Ms. Billoo.
Diane Alston, a 24-year-old from Houston who had recently been quoted in an article about the New York senator’s most vocal superfans, nicknamed “Gillistans,” said the statement was enough to force her to rethink whom she planned to support.