Subtle Islamophobia has been a part of U.S. national discourse for a very long time, but up until recently, the rabid, vitriolic, and out-in-the-open form of anti-Muslim hysteria of the cyber-world was limited to websites like Jihad Watch. This is no longer the case, as it has now infiltrated the United States government, exactly the opposite of what anti-Muslim loons claim, i.e. that “stealth jihad” and “sharia” have infiltrated the government.
First, there was Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, who planned and held anti-Muslim Congressional hearings–not once, not twice, not three times, not four times, but five times!
Then, there were accusations of disloyalty and “stealth jihad” against the only two Muslim Congressmen in office.
To better approximate the McCarthyism of the 1950’s, five House Republicans have now claimed that the sinister Muslim Brotherhood has “penetrated” the U.S. government and that “officials in highly sensitive positions inside the United States government” are linked to the Brotherhood. The group sent letters to five federal agencies demanding an investigation.
Such a wacky conspiracy theory is par for the course for loony sites like Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch and Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs. But, to see such nuttiness in the mainstream is truly frightening, and a testament to the persistent campaign of Islamophobia waged by online anti-Muslim crusaders.
The congressional charge is led by Rep. Michele Bachmann, a veritable Islamophobe who absolutely hates Muslims. Other members of the Islamophobic gang include Reps. Trent Franks, Thomas Rooney, Lynn Westmoreland, and Louie Gohmert.
The quintet pointed the finger at Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff and aide to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: she was linked to the nefarious Muslim Brotherhood. This led to a critical response by John McCain, who came to Abedin’s swift defense. He thundered:
Ultimately, what is at stake in this matter is larger even than the reputation of one person. This is about who we are as a nation, and who we still aspire to be.
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.
But, McCain himself is guilty of smearing an influential Muslim with the Muslim Brotherhood smear: he blithely declared that Mohamed ElBaradei, Nobel Laureate and former Director General of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), “could be a figure hood for the Muslim Brotherhood.” The difference between Abedin and ElBaradei is that the former is a part of America’s elite political class whereas the latter is just some foreigner. It will be interesting to see, however, which of the two trumps the other: Abedin’s Muslimness or her eliteness?
Andrew McCarthy, formerly the Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (who prosecuted several high profile terrorism cases) and currently a columnist for the National Review, slammed John McCain on the same grounds. He quipped:
…Senator McCain is no stranger to smear. No need to confirm that with Mr. ElBaradei…
But, Andrew McCarthy has a different angle in mind: he actually writes this article in defense of the five Republicans and against Huma Abedin. In fact, it is a five page screed in support of wild Islamophobic conspiracy theory, of the “Obama-administration[‘s] coziness with the Muslim Brotherhood.” (Is it a wonderful coincidence that his last name is McCarthy?)
Andrew McCarthy’s apologia aside, Rep. Louie Gohmert came to his own defense:
Of course, Gohmert’s “you see me huggin’ Muslims around the world” is as absurd as Pamela Geller’s “I love Muslims”.
But, the money quote is actually by Janet Napolitano, the United States Secretary of Homeland Security, who said:
What bothers me, quite frankly, are the allegations that are made against anyone who happens to be Muslim.
This powerful sentence succinctly summarizes the status quo: if you are Muslim, you will be smeared. You will somehow be linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, which in turn, will be linked to Hamas. You will then be referred to as the “Hamas-linked so-and-so.” That is the standard Islamophobic smear and it is hurled against any Muslim individual (or group) who gains even nominal prominence.
The irony, of course, is that Janet Napolitano is the Secretary of Homeland Security, which is overseen by the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security–yes, the same committee that led the anti-Muslim hearings. There is an Islamophobia circus going on right now, and the venue for this circus has moved from anti-Muslim blogs to the halls of government.