After her failed presidential bid, Michelle Bachmann is dipping into the familiar well of witch hunt and Islamophobia.
This time around, she is alleging that “It appears that there has been deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood,” Bachmann said. “It appears that there are individuals who are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who have positions, very sensitive positions, in our Department of Justice, our Department of Homeland Security, potentially even in the National Intelligence Agency.”
Bachman is not content with an abstract witch hunt, and is naming names. This time around, she is identifying Huma Abedin, the traveling chief of staff to Hilary Clinton.
Abedin is an American citizen, a committed Muslim and a patriotic civicly engaged American. Bachmann's project seems precisely designed to go after Muslims who are civicly and politically engaged in American politics.
The most serious direct challenge to Ms. Bachmann has come from Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim American member of the US Congress. He has put up what one columnist has identified as a “put up or shut up” challenge to Ms. Bachmann, that she provide his "office with a full accounting of the sources you used to make the serious allegations against the individuals and organizations in your letters. If there is not credible, substantial evidence for your allegations, I sincerely hope you will publicly clear their names."
Ms. Bachmann has issued a laughable, 16-page document clarifying her sources, available here:
Keith Ellison dismissed the above as “16 pages worth of nothing”, and a phantom.
"Now you would think to make a charge like that -- for sitting members of Congress to make a charge like that, that they would have some actual evidence, right?" he said. "You would think that. But the truth is they don't have any direct evidence."
The Salon was more direct in their refutation:
"As evidence, she pointed to Abedin’s late father, Professor Syed Z. Abedin, and a 2002 Brigham Young University Law Review article about his work. Bachmann points to a passage saying Abedin founded an organization that received the “quiet but active support” of the the former director of the Muslim World League, an international NGO that was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe in the 1970s through 1990s. So, to connect Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood, you have to go through her dead father, to the organization he founded, to a man who allegedly supported it, to the organization that man used to lead, to Europe in the 1970s and 1990s, and finally to the Brotherhood."
To paraphrase, Ms. Bachmann is engaging in a global, fantasy-ridden witch hunt of the famed Kevin Bacon game variety.
There is now serious bi-partisan refutation of Ms. Bachmann, this time from Senator John McCain, arguably the most senior Republican voice on foreign policy affairs. In a rare move, Senator McCain took to the floor of the Senate, and issued the following speech in defense of Ms. Abedin, and refutation of Ms. Bachmann.
Senator McCain stated:
“Ultimately, what is at stake in this matter is larger even than the reputation of one person,” McCain said. “This is about who we are as a nation and who we still aspire to be. What makes America exceptional among the countries of the world is that we are bound together as citizens not by blood or class, not by sect or ethnicity, but by a set of enduring, universal and equal rights that are the foundation of our constitution, our laws, our citizenry, and our identity. When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it.”
McCain’s concluding words were: “I hope these ugly and unfortunate attacks on her can be immediately brought to an end and put behind us before any further damage is done to a woman, an American, of genuine patriotism and love of country.”
We are all waiting for the retraction of these spurious charges and the apology, Congresswoman Bachmann.
Somehow I suspect we shouldn’t be holding our breath.
Sadly, these types of witch hunts have a legacy in American political history: McCarthyism.
We as Americans deserve better than this, and should insist on something more noble.