McCarthyism Redux

All minorities and religious groups should be affronted and alarmed by these reckless and unfounded accusations against decent and honorableAmericans who happen to be Muslims.


In scenes reminiscent of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s Red Scare of the 1950s, five right wing Republican members of Congress, led by Rep Michele Bachman, are orchestrating a campaign to root out so-called “Islamic fundamentalists” who, they allege, have infiltrated the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Their most prominent target is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Muslim American deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin. In a letter to the deputy inspector general of the Department of State, they, accuse Abedin of being a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer, because “three family members — her late father, her mother and brother (are) connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.” With her “routine access to the Secretary and to policy-making,” they assert, that the State Department has “taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests … which may even pose security risks for this nation, its people and interests.”

The language and even the agencies targeted by Bachman & gang are eerily evocative of McCarthy, who became notorious for making reckless and unsubstantiated allegations against so-called Communist sympathizers and spies, famously alleging that “the State Department is infested with communists.” McCarthy amassed immense short-term political capital, but was ultimately censured by the United States Senate in 1954, a fate we hope will befall these crackpots as well.

They have demanded a formal investigation “of the extent to which Muslim Brotherhood-tied individuals and entities have helped achieve the adoption of these State Department policies, or are involved in their execution.” Like McCarthy, who frequently challenged the patriotism and loyalty of people he targeted, they demand loyalty oaths of Muslim Americans, questioning whether “any individual associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, directly or indirectly — ever renounced the objectives of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.”

In a similar letter to the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, they malign other Muslims, including Mohamed Magid, whose crime is that he is president of the Islamic Society of Northern America (ISNA), which is as mainstream a religious organization as any in the country, but which they dub as the “largest Muslim Brotherhood front in America.” They also accuse five Islamic members of a Working Group at Homeland Security of “appear(ing) to share their sympathy for Islamist causes.”

Other letters raise alarms at the “Muslim Brotherhood (plans) to penetrate and subvert the American government as part of its civilization jihad” and pan the Director General of National Intelligence for outreach efforts through Muslim organizations, such as ISNA, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and Muslim Advocates.

The allegations have been roundly denounced, most famously by Sen. John McCain, who declared from the Senate floor, “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.”

All minorities and religious groups should be affronted and alarmed by these reckless and unfounded accusations against decent and honorable Americans who happen to be Muslims. They could as easily have been targeted against them. Indeed, they are in at least one “dangerous” example that “could prove detrimental to our national and homeland security,” the Congress members cite in their letter to the inspector general of the Department of Justice: “The priority accorded by the Department’s Civil Rights division under Assistant General Thomas Peres addressing to alleged ‘bias crimes against Muslims, Sikhs, and people of Arab and South Asian descent’ or those perceived to be. Such a priority plays into the narrative of victimhood promoted by Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, but is unsupported by the FBI’s data which shows that minorities (notably Jews) are subjected to a far larger number of ‘religious bias crimes’ (also known as ‘hate crimes’).”

As the poet John Dunne famously wrote, “Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

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