Jayapal Gets 9/11 Victim Counts Wrong for Second Year in a Row, Adds 19 People Sure to Infuriate Americans
Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington says 9/11 is what propelled her into a career in politics — although not quite the way you might think.
Jayapal — chairwoman of the House Progressive Caucus and a close collaborator with the “squad” of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez et al — first began her career as an activist because she thought anti-Muslim discrimination after the terrorist attacks was too much for her to bear.
“In the days following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, she established the non-profit Hate Free Zone, now known as OneAmerica, to counter anti-Muslim backlash,” NBC News reported in 2016 after Jayapal was first elected. “Now, despite heading to Congress under a President-elect Donald Trump administration and a ‘hostile’ Congress, the representative-elect remains undaunted.”
As you might have imagined, Jayapal didn’t spend the day at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City with a flag lapel pin, consoling victims’ families and thanking first responders for their service 21 years ago. Nevertheless, like most politicians on Sept. 11, she managed a pro forma acknowledgment of the terrorist attack that claimed nearly 3,000 innocent lives. If only she knew what “innocent lives” entailed.
“Today we remember the 2,996 people who were killed on 9/11 and all those who lost their lives while serving our country in the forever wars that followed,” Jayapal wrote in a now-deleted Twitter post on Sunday.
Aside from the gratuitous “forever wars that followed” remark — what is this, Green Day’s attempt at a “Never Forget” tweet? — the casual observer might not notice anything too amiss. Unless, of course, they ran the math:
While the number of people who died in the 9/11 attacks is 2,996, that includes the 19 hijackers. We may indeed “remember” them, but in the same way we “remember” Osama bin Laden: Unlike the 2,977 innocent people who perished that day, we’re not sorry they’re gone and we rather wish we would have gotten to them earlier.
Now, some argued Jayapal shouldn’t be taken to task for this — after all, she deleted it, right?
Others have made the same mistake, including Republican House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California.
If you’re going to knock @RepJayapal for including the hijackers in the number of people killed on 9/11, please also include @GOPLeader in your criticism. pic.twitter.com/vBThN8cz4z
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) September 12, 2022
Yup. My guess is people are going by the automated Google result but not actually clicking on the Wikipedia article which says: “2,996 (2,977 victims + 19 al-Qaeda terrorists).”
And since most people round it up to 3,000 in their heads they think that’s the number to use. pic.twitter.com/wz9GeaDwvi
— Sarcastic Cupcake (@SarcasticCupcak) September 12, 2022
There are a few reasons why this equivalency doesn’t exactly hold water, however.
For starters, Jayapal tweeted the exact same thing on Sept. 11, 2021:
Today we remember the 2,996 people who were killed on 9/11 and all those who lost their lives while serving our country in the forever wars that followed. pic.twitter.com/iuDzlapzUr
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) September 11, 2021
So not only was this a copy-paste, it was a copy-paste Jayapal and her crew had a whole year to realize was wretchedly erroneous.
The fact that she tweeted out exactly the same mistake a year later — and in a Twitter post that was still live as of Monday morning Eastern Daylight Time — indicates that maybe she and her staff didn’t think it was such a bad mistake at all.
Second, Jayapal links her career in activism to 9/11, as she noted in several tweets later on Sunday.
“9/11 is when my path into activism and organizing truly began,” she wrote. “So much changed that day, and so much has happened in the intervening two decades but our work still continues.
“Today we must remember the communities right here at home that suffered so much — not only through the terrorist attacks that affected every American’s psyche, but also the hate, discrimination, and erosion of civil liberties they had to endure.”
9/11 is when my path into activism and organizing truly began.
So much changed that day, and so much has happened in the intervening two decades but our work still continues.
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) September 11, 2022
That’s why last year, with @RepJudyChu, @Ilhan, and @RepRashida, I introduced a resolution to recognize our history and to rectify our future. https://t.co/SH3pmzacGs
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) September 11, 2022
She linked to a resolution she introduced in September 2021 that would acknowledge “the hate, discrimination, racism, and xenophobia that Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities across America continue to experience two decades after the September 11 attack. The lawmakers also acknowledge that individuals were targeted by the government on account of their faith, race, national origin, and immigration status. Additionally, they outline specific forms of relief to support those affected.”
If Jayapal wants to subscribe to the lefty revisionist line on 9/11 and make it part of her legislative origin story, fine. If one does that, one should least get certain facts right, though — like, say, the number of innocent deaths vs. the number of cumulative deaths when one takes the terrorists into account on 9/11.
Finally, nobody was questioning Kevin McCarthy’s patriotic bona fides. His tweet was a mistake — a dumb one, to be sure, but a mistake nonetheless. With Jayapal, questions abound in that department.
Take a look at that resolution she introduced last September — or, more specifically, whom she introduced it with. That’s right, one of the three names is none other than Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, infamous for describing 9/11 as an event where “some people did something.”
As Politico noted in March of 2019, Jayapal was one of Omar’s mentors during her early days in Congress. When the House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning hate speech in the wake of a series of anti-Semitic remarks by Omar, she was the first to embrace the Minnesota Democrat on the House floor.
“Rep. Ilhan Omar stood alone near the back of the House chamber earlier this month, glancing at her phone and seemingly oblivious to the remarkable rebuke being leveled at her,” Politico reported. “After several minutes, she spotted Rep. Pramila Jayapal a few rows ahead and darted toward the Washington Democrat. They embraced and soon doubled over in laughter.”
Despite Omar’s serial anti-Semitism, Jayapal has had no problems joining forces with her on attempts to starve Israel of military funds, including an effort to defund the Iron Dome anti-missile system. Likewise, despite “some people did something,” Jayapal had no qualms co-sponsoring a resolution with Omar demanding the government self-flagellate over its response to 9/11.
So, yes, excuse me if I think McCarthy’s mistake is a bit more trivial than Jayapal’s. In the former case, it’s a dumb oversight I’m sure McCarthy is kicking himself (or his staff) over.
Jayapal might have deleted this year’s tweet, but it doesn’t look like she’s kicking herself (or anyone else) over the math that made it so repugnant.
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