Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
Islamophobes such as Congresswoman Michele Bachmann have gone so far that they’re being challenged by their own party’s stalwarts.
Bachmann and four other Republican members of Congress accused Huma Abedin, a close Hillary Clinton aide, of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and asked the State Department to investigate her.
In response, John McCain made a rousing speech on the Senate floor.
“These allegations about Huma,” he said, “are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant. These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis, and no merit. And they need to stop now.”
McCain has managed to (almost) redeem himself from the funk of his post-presidential run.
And then, Ed Rollins, who was Bachmann’s campaign manager in her failed presidential bid this year, wrote a startling piece for Fox News’s website.
“I am fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty with her facts, but this is downright vicious and reaches the late Sen. Joe McCarthy level,” he stated. And he added: “As a member of Congress, with a seat on the House Intelligence Committee, Mrs. Bachmann, you know better. Shame on you, Michele! You should stand on the floor of the House and apologize to Huma Abedin and to Secretary Clinton and to the millions of hardworking, loyal Muslim Americans for your wild and unsubstantiated charges. As a devoted Christian, you need to ask forgiveness for this grievous lack of judgment and reckless behavior.”
Whoa! A few more instances such as these, and even a seemingly irredeemable character such as Rollins may be able to redeem himself.
House Speaker John Boehner has also joined in the chorus of Republicans reproving Bachmann, calling the allegations against Abedin “pretty dangerous.”
Others have revealed Bachmann’s assertions to be little more than products of her imagination.
"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?” Anderson Cooper said on his CNN show. "You would think that. But the truth is they don't have any direct evidence."
And Bachmann’s fellow member of the Minnesota congressional delegation, Keith Ellison (the first Muslim member of Congress), has also exposed the hollowness of her accusations. “A careful review of your sixteen-page response reveals that you fail to provide any credible evidence for your claims, engage in guilt by association, and continue to rely on discredited sources,” Ellison stated.
Abedin, for those of you don’t know, is married to ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner (ahem, yes the same Weiner who resigned last year due to his propensity to tweet revealing photos to his admirers). Weiner, a Jewish American, was a fervent backer of Israel while in office. Abedin has a warm personal connection to Hillary Clinton, one of the biggest hawks in the Obama Administration. Clinton has reportedly referred to Abedin as her “second daughter.” The whole thing is almost laughable.
But not quite. Islamophobia has taken a toll in this country. In the decade since the September 11 attacks, there have been several people killed due to anti-Muslim and anti-Arab prejudice. Many U.S. mosques have been firebombed, vandalized, and desecrated, while proposals for the building of mosques and Muslim cultural centers have faced resistance all over the country. The Muslim community in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, just this week finally prevailed in a lengthy court battle to open a mosque that was bitterly opposed by a lot of town residents. And in the same state, Samar Ali, the newly appointed head of the Department of Economic and Community Development, has been the target of a whispering campaign alleging that she is part of a Muslim fifth column.
Public figures such as Bachmann incite such hateful prejudice. Not having the decency to apologize, Bachmann is standing by her dubious allegations, saying she will “not be silent as this Administration appeases our enemies.”
Members of Congress such as Bachmann are a disgrace to the institution, and it is to McCain’s, Rollins’s, and Boehner’s credit that they’ve publicly denounced her.
If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of the Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "Hillary Clinton Should Have U.S. Sign Cluster Bomb Treaty."
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