Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) is no stranger to being in the news for controversial statements. From incorrectly citing the constitution regarding the census to decrying global warming as “voodoo, nonsense, hokum, [and] a hoax” to even suggesting that swine flu outbreaks are somehow connected to Democratic presidents: Bachmann isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind, even if it is outlandish or blatantly untrue.
However, it now appears Bachmann has said something that goes too far for even members of her own party to stomach.
Recently, she attacked Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff and Anthony Weiner’s wife, for being a Muslim extremist and having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Her evidence? In Bachmann’s own words, Abedin “has three family members — her late father, her mother, and her brother — connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations. Her position provides her with routine access to the Secretary and to policy-making.”
The claim is both unfounded and unprecedented, causing fellow Republicans, and even her former chief of staff, to call her out.
Sen. John McCain defended Abedin on the Senate floor, saying, “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.”
I can’t agree more with McCain. This kind of attack based primarily on someone’s religion is unprofessional and disconcerting. While there certainly are aspects of religion that people should be concerned about, such as preaching intolerance and inciting violence, one’s affiliation can’t be the basis for criticism and hatred.
Bachmann’s attack has drawn comparisons to Sen. Joe McCarthy’s communist witch hunts in the 1950s, when fear of the Soviet Union and communism allowed McCarthy to demonize and bully his opponents and critics by labeling them as “communists” and “unpatriotic.”
In a sense, that is exactly what Bachmann is doing. According to a 2003 University of Minnesota study, Muslims were the second-least-trusted minority in the United States. And, it’s easy to play on society’s fear to achieve political goals.
In Bachmann’s mind, she may be doing her part in trying to oust the Democrats from the White House (she was also part of the Birther movement), but clearly she has overstepped mere political competition and entered the realm of fear-mongering.
Thankfully, members of both sides of the political spectrum have stepped up and recognized that Bachmann is out of line. Here’s to hoping that the hate and bigotry from the McCarthyism of the 1950s doesn’t translate into Bachmannism in the 21st century.
Reach opinion writer Nathan Taft
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