Louie Gohmert’s Muslim Problem
by Sheila Musaji
Here is our original entry on Louis Gohmert from our article collection Islamophobia no longer questioned, even by elected representatives
Rep. Louis Gohmert of Texas warns of a plot to breed terrorist babies who will one day attack America. This goes right along with the Muslim demographics conspiracy theory which I call the dumbest Muslim plot ever. He has said that he will be pushing for anti-Sharia hearings in Congress. He also joined the growing chorus of Republicans clamoring for hearings to look into the threat of “creeping Sharia law.” Appearing on Frank Gaffney’s radio show (Gaffney is of course the chief architect of the “creeping Sharia” threat), Gohmert told the host he hoped they would “have some hearings” and that he would “be pushing for them”. ... This is not idle banter. As chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Gohmert has the power to hold such hearings. He said “You love your neighbor and all,” he said, “but when you are in a position and sworn to defend a country and given that mantle of protecting the country that Romans 13 talks about, then you have an obligation to get to the truth and do whatever you can to protect your people.” **
Gohmert was one of five members of Congress who signed a letter making allegations about Muslim Brotherhood “infiltration” of Government. In the article Michele Bachmann Ups the Ante in the GOP War on American Muslims this is discussed in detail. From that article:
A week ago, Alex Seitz-Wald on Salon, reported that
Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota Republican, joined by Republican Reps. Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Thomas Rooney and Lynn Westmoreland, sent letters to the inspectors general of five government agencies responsible for national security to demand they investigate infiltration by the Muslim Brotherhood into the highest reaches of the federal government. In particular, Bachmann singled out Huma Abedin, the wife of former congressman Anthony Weiner and a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In case Abedin hasn’t already been through enough already, Bachmann is now questioning her loyalty to the U.S. by asserting that Abedin has three family members who are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood (Abedin is Muslim). She’s been targeted before by anti-Muslim activists, and Bachmann notes that Abedin’s position “affords her routine access to the Secretary and to policy-making.” Bachmann also claims the state has “taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests.”
... So what is Bachmann’s source? Every one of her letters prominently cites Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan defense official who has become one of the country’s most prominent anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. Gaffney heads the Center for Security Policy and has for years been preaching to anyone who will listen that the Muslim Brotherhood is secretly infiltrating every aspect of American life in a grand scheme to impose Shariah law when we least expect it. For Gaffney, everyone is an agent of the Brotherhood, including CPAC, the big annual gathering of conservatives in Washington, D.C., and Grover Norquist, the prominent anti-tax activist who is married to a Muslim woman.
As I exclusively reported in February, Gaffney’s persistent attacks against fellow conservatives got him booted from the American Conservative Union, the organization that puts on CPAC and includes notable hawks like former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. As Ellison explained in his letter, “Mr. Gaffney’s views have been widely discredited, including by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and conservative organizations … After the ACU board conducted a full investigation of Mr. Gaffney’s accusations against Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan, the board found Mr. Gaffney’s accusations ‘reprehensible,’ ‘baseless’ and ‘false and unfounded.’ The ACU even barred Mr. Gaffney’s participation from CPAC in 2011.”
Gaffney has since been ostracized from several other key conservative groups, yet Bachmann apparently feels justified demanding official investigations based on his theories. Unfortunately, if the precedent of 2010 proves predictive, this likely won’t be the last conspiracy theory we hear about Muslims from conservatives before November. ...
This sort of anti-Muslim behavior on the part of Bachmann and company comes as no surprise. Her reliance on disreputable sources such as Frank Gaffney also comes as no surprise, after all he is her advisor on foreign policy, and he promoted her candidacy for President saying that Pres. Bachmann could uproot Muslim Brotherhood “iInfiltrators” in the U.S. In the article Where is the U.S. Government Getting It’s Information on Islam and Muslims? this is discussed at length. If Bachmann is interested in information about Gaffney’s qualifications as an “expert” on Islam or Muslims, she might want to check out the list of articles about Gaffney below, or the TAM backgrounder Frank Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy. She might also want to check out my articles Muslim Brotherhood Document of the Muslim or Islamophobic Lunatic Fringe? and Unindicted co-conspirator Designation Not a Proof of Guilt which discuss the shaky base that Gaffney/Bachmann’s claims rest on.
... Bachmann, Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Thomas Rooney and Lynn Westmoreland should all be ashamed of themselves. And, Bachmann, Franks, Gohmert, and Westmoreland who are all members of Capitol Ministries that hosts regular Christian Bible studies for, and ministers to, Members of Congress, should pray on what they are doing. It is interesting that Paul Broun and Sue Myrick were also members of this same Bible study group. What sort of “Christian” message are they receiving? They might also want to consider just how much their Islamophobic rantings sound like a previous generations anti-Semitism. UPDATE: We have just added an article about Capitol Ministries Is Congressional Christian Brotherhood Group Behind GOP Islamophobia? providing much more background on this group, their members, and their activities.
After Bachmann’s letter was released, Rep. Keith Ellison then wrote to Bachmann requesting proof of her allegations. You can see a copy of his letter HERE Ellison wrote in part “I request that you provide my office 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 that you will publically clear their names.”
A few days ago we published an excellent article by James Zogby of AAI on Michele Bachmann’s current Muslim witch hunt. He said:
A few weeks back, the sensation-seeking Representative Michele Bachmann did her best imitation of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. She and four of her Congressional colleagues released letters they had collectively sent to the Inspectors General of the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security, and the Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence calling on them to investigate whether “influence operations conducted by individuals and organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood” have “had an impact on the federal government’s national security policies.”
Warning of “determined efforts by the Muslim Brotherhood to penetrate and subvert the American government as part of its ‘civilizational jihad’” the representatives wanted the Inspectors General to identify the Muslims who were influencing U.S. policy.
In making these charges, Bachmann and her cohorts were relying on the work of a Washington-based group the Center for Security Policy - a notorious player in the anti-Muslim industry that has been working for several years to smear Muslim American groups. The head of the Center served as one of Bachmann’s advisers during her ill-fated run for the presidency and the only source cited in the Congressional letters was the Center’s “training program” “The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within.”
The evidence the Congressmen present to back up their ominous warnings is, at best, slight—in some cases, creating a “straw man” out of a single reed of straw. For example, Representative Gohmert points accusingly to the fact that “this administration continues to bow down before groups associated with the goal of ‘destroying Western civilization from within’” - by which he means that the Administration apologized to Muslims in the Qur’an-burning incident in Afghanistan. This, he suggests, must be due to the administration’s “continued meetings” with Muslim groups, which has blinded them to the threat these Muslims pose to our “ability to protect ourselves.”
In other instances the evidence reads more like a “six degrees of separation game.” Using this trick, Bachmann and the Center point accusing fingers at some Muslims who serve in the administration. Among those who were singled out by name is Huma Abedin, Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
In the case of Abedin, the game goes from absurd, to downright bizarre. Her father and mother are Muslim and her father taught at a Muslim university in Saudi Arabia, and so they must be…(fill in the blank). In one article inspired by the Center’s work that appeared in the Washington Times, a right-wing newspaper, questions are asked as to whether Abedin “had been groomed to access movers and shakers to advance the cause of Islam in America.” The article goes on to question whether Abedin’s marriage to a Jewish Member of Congress was but a clever ruse designed to further this “Islamist agenda.” The evidence? Since Abedin is a Muslim why else would her family have approved of her marrying a non-Muslim? And, after all, she works for Clinton and Obama, who share, the article says, the “socialist agenda, which includes domination of the U.S. by a Muslim-ruled world!”
What is so intriguing about conspiracy-minded loonies is how their rhetorical charges and the gravity of the threat they see continues to grow each time they speak. Not to disappoint, Bachmann’s paranoia gives evidence of this trait. In a recent interview in which she discussed her effort, she explained, “it appears that there has been deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood…it appears that there are individuals associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who have very sensitive positions in our Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security…I am calling [for an investigation] to see who these people are and what access they have to our information.”
As outrageous as all this behavior may be, the letters and the charges generated very little media attention, but that doesn’t mean that they can be dismissed, for two main reasons: the five, though all a bit loony, hold positions of influence on key Congressional committees; and despite the fact that the source of the “evidence” cited in the Congressional letters is the pernicious Muslim-bashing Center for Security Policy,“witch hunts” if let unchecked can ruin lives and damage reputations.
Let’s look first at the five Members of Congress who signed the letters: Representatives Bachmann, Tom Rooney, and Lynn Westmoreland all sit on the Select Committee on Intelligence, while Representatives Trent Franks and Louis Gohmert are members of the Judiciary Committee. With the exception of Bachmann, all hold leadership positions, either within their respective committees or in the House Republican caucus.
As an example of the potential this group might have to influence policy, this week the powerful Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Mike Rogers speaking on a radio program hosted by the head of the Center called Bachman’s campaign to “root out” Muslims “very important” noting that she is “taking the lead” on this issue.
As was the case during the McCarthy era, “witch-hunts” have victims and not only in jobs lost and careers ruined. Equally troubling is the distress that campaigns of this sort can bring to those not named, but who live in fear that their religion or their ethnicity will be the reason that they will be held in suspicion, denied a position, or held back from advancement. And as I know from bitter personal experience, it can result in entire communities being shunned by officials who fear being attacked for associating with a group that has been smeared as “dangerous.” Because there is a scarcity of courageous leaders in Washington, all too often the “witch hunts” will fester, taking a terrible toll before being challenged and defeated.
It is for this reason that I am so thankful that the wise voters of Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District sent Keith Ellison to Congress. He is smart, picking his fights carefully. He is principled and courageous, venturing forth on matters that others tend to shy away from. And his wise counsel and thoughtful approach to issues has earned him the respect of his colleagues.
Ellison demonstrated his leadership this week when he directly challenged the sensation-seeking Islamophobe, Representative Michele Bachmann. In a stern letter to Bachmann and company, Ellison asks 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.”
After Rep. Ellison sent the letter to Rep. Bachmann, she sent a 16-page “response” supposedly backing up her allegations. You can download a PDF of Bachmann’s letter to Ellison HERE.
Rep. Ellison appearing on the Anderson Cooper program described Bachmann’s response as “16 pages worth of nothing”, and “a phantom”. Anderson Cooper said “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? You would think that. But the truth is they don’t have any direct evidence.”
Alex Seitz-Wald on Salon in the article Bachmann defends her witch hunt, reports that:
... 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.
The next paragraph of the law review article she cites quotes Syed Abedin concluding that the Koran calls for, “multiple ways of life … i.e. religious and cultural plurality among mankind.” Pretty scary Islamo-fascist stuff. It’s also worth nothing that Weiner, Huma Abedin’s husband, is one of the most unquestionably pro-Israeli politicians in America. But Bachmann would have us believe that the security clearance process somehow missed Abedin’s nefarious connections, and thus she knows more than, say, the CIA and FBI, who are involved in the background-check process.
“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.”
It really does seem as if the GOP has declared war on American Muslims, and that even those in the GOP who are not actively participating in Islamophobia have been silent. The list of elected representatives who have questioned Islamophobia includes almost no one from the GOP. Gov. Christie and Susan Collins, (R-Maine), and now Sen. John McCain are notable exceptions.
When individuals are elected to public office, they take an oath:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
It would seem that some of our elected representatives had their fingers crossed when taking this oath.
All of these folks really need to study the Constitution of the United States to remember that the Congress represents “we the people”, all of us, not just some particular segments of the population.
American Muslims are a part of “we the people”. We are Americans. We are not going anywhere. And, I believe that it is well past time that other Americans begin standing up against this demonization of Islam and Muslims. It would be nice to know that this sort of bigotry is not shared by most of our fellow Americans.
As the MPAC statement on this incident said: The congressional leaders making these accusations along with Bachmann have breached the trust of the public they serve. These members must be held responsible by the media and their constituents. If there was any offense that would warrant a resignation from a member of Congress, it seems that we have reached that point.
Danios of Loonwatch has posted an article Louie Gohmert: “You See Me Huggin’ Muslims Around The World” in which he notes 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. He also comments on Gohmert’s defense of his being one of the signatories of the letter demanding an investigation of Muslim Brotherhood operatives infiltrating the U.S. government.
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.
And, Igor Volsky notes that Gohmert Calls McCain ‘Numb Nuts’ For Criticizing Bachmann’s Anti-Muslim Witch Hunt:
“Normally you don’t go blast somebody on the floor who is a colleague on the same side of the aisle unless you touch base with them,” Gohmert complained during an appearance on the Dennis Miller Show on Tuesday, referring to McCain’s denunciation of the group’s allegations as “nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack.” The fiery Texan then launched into a personal attack against McCain, calling him “numb nuts” and suggesting the Muslim Brotherhood is now influencing him too:
GOHMERT: Well, it’s obvious that John McCain didn’t even read the letter because of what he said in accusing Michele and us of making these horrible accusations. There were five letters and there were many things that are stated that are facts in each letter. And I wish some of these numb nuts would go out and read the letter before they make these horrible allegations about the horrible accusations we’re making. But we also know that John McCain himself had said back in the early stages of stuff going on in Egypt that he was, in his words, “unalterably opposed to helping the Muslim Brotherhood.” Well, obviously the unalterable person has been altered, so he is okay with it now.
Letter to Rep. Louie Gohmert
by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, Pres. Interfaith Alliance
Today, in response to Texas Representative Louie Gohmert’s recent comments on the radio program The Voice of Freedom claiming that the Second Amendment is needed to protect against sharia law, Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy sent a letter asking the Congressman to stop demonizing Islam and seeking to disenfrancise the American Muslim community. Rev. Gaddy also included with his letter a copy of Interfaith Alliance’s What is the Truth About American Muslims: Questions and Answers, which was recently produced in collaboration with the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center.
The Honorable Louie Gohmert
2243 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Representative Gohmert:
I write to you with great concern over your recent comments on the radio program The Voice of Freedom regarding measures to prevent gun violence. Your implication that the Second Amendment must be strongly upheld so that Americans can arm themselves against sharia, Muslim religious law, is troubling. It is all the more troubling when I recall that just last summer the organization which I serve as president, Interfaith Alliance, alongside 41 religious and civil rights groups wrote to you in protest of your demonization of prominent American Muslim government officials and community organizations. I am disappointed to see that neither your rhetoric nor your misinformed view of Islam has changed.
I hope that you will review a resource Interfaith Alliance produced in collaboration with the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center entitled What is the Truth About American Muslims: Questions and Answers. I have attached a copy to this letter and in particular would call your attention to questions 19-27 which focus on the nature of sharia. These questions include, “How do American Muslims follow sharia?” and “Do American Muslims want to replace the U.S. Constitution with sharia?” This resource has also been endorsed by nearly two dozen religious, civic and civil rights groups, all united to combat ignorance and bigotry against American Muslims and protect religious freedom.
I feel compelled to again remind you that the continued demonization of Islam and disenfranchisement of the American Muslim community is not only uncalled for, it is a dangerous affront to the religious freedom upon which this nation was founded and it must end. American Muslims, the overwhelming majority of whom live peaceful, law-abiding lives — just like Americans from other religious groups — should not have to live in a country where their elected officials imply that they need to be kept at bay with firearms.
Furthermore, at a time when gun violence has wracked our nation with one unimaginable tragedy after another, I would hope that elected officials such as you would stay focused on real measures to prevent future needless deaths. I would hope that you would focus your attention on measures to truly balance the Second Amendment rights you so strongly defend, rather than derailing what should be a substantive policy discussion with misguided bigotry. No matter our disagreements, we as a nation need to be done forever with the thought that guns are a solution to our problems.
In my experience, the only people in the U.S. government who are concerned that there are those who think “sharia law ought to be the law of the land” are those who, like you, are misguidedly attempting to infringe upon the religious freedom of American Muslims to practice their faith. I hope that you will give a close look to the attached questions and answers guide and cease your demonization of a group of Americans who have the same right as you to be here and practice their faith.
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy
Michele Bachmann Ups the Ante in the GOP War on American Muslims, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/michelle-bachmanns-muslim-problem
Congressman Gohmert Says Americans Need Guns To Protect The Nation From Sharia Law, Igor Volsky http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/02/21/1622561/congressman-says-americans-need-guns-to-protect-the-nation-from-sharia-law/
Louie Gohmert: “You See Me Huggin’ Muslims Around The World” http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/07/louie-gohmert-you-see-me-huggin-muslims-around-the-world/
Group Of House Republicans Stand By Islamophobic Witch Hunt, Travis Waldron http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/07/29/602931/group-of-house-republicans-stand-by-islamophobic-witch-hunt/
Interfaith & Secular Groups Send Letter Criticizing Allegations Against American Muslims http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/interfaith-alliance-sends-letter-criticizing-allegations-against-american-m
On Conspiracy Theories and Islamophobia: Rep. Louie Gohmert and the Omnipresent Muslim Brotherhood Cobra http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/10/on-conspiracy-theories-and-islamophobia-the-case-of-rep-louie-gohmert-and-the-omnipresent-muslim-brotherhood-octopus/
Republican Rep. Gohmert: Obama ‘has helped jump start a new Ottoman Empire’ http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/09/21/892391/republican-rep-obama-has-helped-jump-start-a-new-ottoman-empire/
TX Rep. Louis Gohmert Warns of Terrorist Babies http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25861.htm