On March 21, 2019, Patrick W. Carlineo Jr., a resident of western New York, uttered expletive-ridden, hate-filled death threats against Representative Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. The 55-year-old man accused Omar of being a terrorist. He apparently felt this justified his anry threats against the Minnesota congresswoman. Today Carlineo, a passionate supporter of President Trump, pleaded guilty to uttering death threats, but claimed he never meant to actually hurt Omar. Now facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, he will be sentenced in February.
In response, Omar has written to the judge who will sentence the man who threatened her life. Without minimizing the gravity of the man’s crime, Omar pleads for leniency. Her letter, shared in full on Twitter, is an example and an inspiration to us all. She notes that Carlineo’s threats were prompted by hateful stereotypes about Muslims and that people who commit violent acts are often themselves victims of “systemic alienation and neglect.” She says compassion may be the only way to rehabilitate them.
Omar writes: “We must ask: who are we as a nation if we respond to acts of political retribution with retribution ourselves? The answer to hate is not more hate; it is compassion.”
Instead of a lengthy prison sentence, Omar urges that Mr. Carlineo be given “the opportunity to make ammends and seek redemption.” Perhaps only those who have had the sort of hate-filled death threat made to them that Omar had will fully appreciate the example she sets for us in her letter.