Update: John McCain’s speech defending Huma Abedin added to bottom of post.
Last week, Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and four other members of Congress (Reps. Gohmert R-TX, Franks R-AZ, Rooney R-FL, and Westmoreland R-GA, who, with the exception of Rooney, are all members of the Tea Party Caucus) sent a letter to top US intelligence and security officials alleging that the Muslim Brotherhood had secret access to top Obama administration officials.
In the letter, Bachmann and company accused Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and others of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and attempting to infiltrate the US government.
These claims sound uncannily familiar. Senator Joe McCarthy once said,
I have here in my hand a list of two hundred and five people that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department.
To their credit, many prominent Republicans have condemned these attacks. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis, and no merit. They need to stop now” and called Bachmann’s claim “specious and degrading.”
Ed Rollins, Bachmann’s campaign manager for her failed bid for the 2012 Republican nomination, wrote in an op-ed for Fox News:
Her unsubstantiated charge against Abedin, a widely respected top aide to Secretary Hillary Clinton, accusing her of some sort of far-fetched connection to the Muslim brotherhood, is extreme and dishonest.
Having worked for Congressman Bachman’s campaign for president, I am fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty with her facts, but this is downright vicious and reaches the late Senator Joe McCarthy level.
Refusing to be cowed, Bachmann doubled down on Wednesday, saying she will “not be silent as this administration appeases our enemies instead of telling the truth about the threats our country faces.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner has since defended the reputation of Huma Abedin, saying, “from everything I do know of her, she has a sterling character. And I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.”
Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Scott Brown have also condemned the attacks.
Sadly, this is just the latest in a string of anti-Muslim incidents associated with the Tea Party. The Williamson County Republicans of Tennessee recently wrote a letter to the Republican Governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, opposing the Governor’s recent appointment of Samar Ali as the international director at the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development.
In their letter, the Williamson County Republicans said,
They [the Haslam Administration] seem willing to accept the claims and defense of the Muslim Brotherhood at face value, refusing to even consider that, perhaps, those bent on destroying Western Civilization might just be infiltrating our institutions. … It is not like this has never happened before. The Muslim Brotherhood is following the blueprint of the Communists, who infiltrated the highest levels of government and society in the 1950’s. Shariah, however, is an even greater threat, because it has cloaked itself under the auspices of a religion, thus confusing the uninformed.
This letter doesn’t even try to disguise its similarities to McCarthyism. In fact, it seems the Williamson County Republicans are actually endorsing exactly that sort of witch-hunt.
Representative Bachmann and her Tea Party “Patriots” have been promoting their bigoted, anti-Muslim, authoritarian agenda for too long. Their personal attacks on individuals, merely because they share the same religion or heritage as the Muslim Brotherhood, fly in the face of the principles upon which this nation was founded.
Any group that seeks to oppress another under the guise of “patriotism” is both un-American and unpatriotic and should be treated as such.
“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.” (5:15)