Michele Bachmann Ups the Ante in the GOP War on American Muslims - updated 8/2/12

Sheila Musaji

Posted Aug 2, 2012      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Michele Bachmann Ups the Ante in the GOP War on American Muslims

by Sheila Musaji

If a Muslim runs for political office, or even wants to get involved in their local community, or establish any sort of institution, whether they are a Republican or a Democrat, outrageous charges of “creeping Sharia prononent”,  “stealth jihadist”, “Muslim Brotherhood plant”, etc. are made by Islamophobes.   Here are just a few examples of such attacks (almost all instigated by Frank Gaffney):

Rep. Keith Ellison has faced numerous assaults. — David Ramadan, a Muslim GOP candidate in a Virginia House of Delegates race. — Sohail Mohammed nominated as a judge on the NJ state Superior Court. — Suhail Khan was accused of being a Muslim Brotherhood operative “infiltrating” CPAC.  — Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates was attacked for giving Muslims common legal advice.  — Faisal Gill, a former JAG officer in the Navy and a Bush White House official accused of terrorist connections when he attempted to get involved in local politics. — Parvez Ahmed’s appointment to the Jacksonville, Florida Human Rights Commission was strongly opposed. — Rep. Andre Carson was recently embroiled in a manufactured controversy.  — Ahmed Rehab faced bigotry when he was appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as part of an advisory committee on immigration issues.  — Halim Dhanidina, who spent 14 years as a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, was appointed to a California Superior Court judgeship by Gov. Jerry Brown, he was attacked for having been in the MSA as a student.  — Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy is pressuring the Gov. of Tennessee to fire Samar Ali from the position of Director of the Economic and Community Development Dept.  — Mohamed Elibiary, a member of DHS’s Combatting Violent Extremism Working Group (CVE). — Imam Mohamed Magid, President of ISNA. — Ingrid Mattson former President of ISNA for being included in Inaugural Prayer Service. — Mazen Asbahi who was forced to resign as Obama’s Muslim Outreach Coordinator. — Dalia Mogahed for her appointment to the White House’s Office of Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships.  — Huma Abedin has been facing bigoted accusations for at least the past year.

You don’t even have to be a Muslim to come under attack by the Islamophobes.

— Gov. Rick Perry was attacked by Islamophobes simply for his friendship with the Aga Khan and not being anti-Muslim enough.    —  Gov. Chris Christie was accused of “abetting treason” for appointing a Muslim.   — Frank Gaffney claimed that the Center for American Progress was part of ‘red-green axis’ with Muslim Brotherhood.   — Elena Kagan was accused of “enabling efforts to insinuate” Shariah law in the United States.  — Gen. David Petraeus was accused of of “submission to Sharia law”.  — When Herman Cain met with Imam Magid of ISNA and other Muslim leaders to apologize for some anti-Muslim statements, Gaffney objected and accused Cain of meeting with Muslim Brotherhood operatives.   — Karen Hughes, the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy was attacked for attending an ISNA conference.  — Gaffney called President Obama “America’s first Muslim president”, and claimed that President Obama is advancing Sharia Law and the ‘Radical Homosexual Agenda’ in the Military, and said that Obama’s respect for Muslims is a secret code telling “those who adhere to Sharia [Muslims] that we will submit to Sharia.” . — Gaffney called the U.S. Missile Defense Agency Logo “evidence of Obama’s ‘Submission To Shariah’.” — Gaffney claimed that Grover Norquist “is helping the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrate the conservative movement”.  —  — GOP Presidential Candidates were asked by Frank Gaffney to sign a “pledge” or loyalty oath against Sharia. 

The problem is that this sort of Islamophobic rhetoric is coming not just from the professional Islamophobes, but is also coming from GOP elected representatives.

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 and Gohmert are also featured in our collection of problematic statements Islamophobia no longer questioned - even by our elected representatives.

Here is the entry on Bachmann in that collection

Rep. Michele Bachmann - said “not all cultures are equal, not all values are equal,” letting it be known that she thought that people of the Muslim faith had an inferior culture to that of the United States and the West. 
- She also called the American Muslims who came to pray at the Muslim Day of Prayer on Capitol Hill “terrorist sympathizers” and “Islamo-Fascist bastards”. 
- She made up a story about “flying Imam’s” attending Keith Ellison’s Christmas party. 
- She also supported a Christian group who said that Rep. Keith Ellison was using Gays to impose Sharia on the US. 
- On a radio program she said  “It’s frightening to think how the left in this country, just as you’ve correctly stated, Michael, is throwing in with common cause with these radical elements of Islamic extremism. And we’re seeing that rise here in the United States. And it’s to our detriment ... “  
- She endorsed Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy Sharia report.  
- Bachmann consistently makes false statements.  She blasted the 2010 census as a government plot and told people not to comply because the U.S. Constitution doesn’t require citizens to participate, when in fact it does. She told her constituents to be “armed and dangerous” in their resistance to cap-and-trade limits on climate-warming pollution. She insisted that Obama’s trip to India cost taxpayers $200 million a day, and claimed that Nancy Pelosi had spent $100,000 on booze on state-paid flights aboard military jets.
- Bachmann sat down for an interview with Pamela Geller of SIOA.   Geller said about that interview “I had a great interview early this morning with Congressman Michele Bachmann, a Republican Congresswoman from east-central Minnesota, a warrior against Obama’s war on America.   Bachmann really gets it. This is a woman I would gladly follow into battle. She’s a comer. If America is to emerge from this war from within, it will be under the stewardship of great Americans like Bachmann. I am a huge fan.”
- She emailed a statement after bin Laden’s death that included ” ...  but it is my hope that this is the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism.”  This maligns all of Islam and all Muslims.  5/11
- Bachmann is now being advised on foreign policy issues by Frank Gaffney 8/11
- Bachman said It appears that there has been deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood has been found to be an unindicted co-conspirator on terrorism cases and yet it appears that there are individuals who are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who have positions, very sensitive positions, in our Department of Justice, our Department of Homeland Security, potentially even in the National Intelligence Agency. I am calling upon the Justice Department and these various departments to investigate through the Inspector General to see who these people are and what access they have to o