Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann recently sent a letter to the Department of State’s Inspector General demanding an investigation into the life of Huma Abedin. Abedin, a Muslim-American woman, is mostly unfamiliar to the average media consumer, however she is well-known in political circles as the longtime aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (She is also the wife of Anthony Weiner).
Bachmann’s letter points a finger at Abedin, who she accuses of aiding Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood in “infiltrating the U.S. government.” I should note that the U.S. doesn’t classify the organization as a caution-worthy group. If fact, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper described the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ as, “…a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.” Just for the record.
The reaction I had when I read about Bachmann’s letter was the same reaction I had when I saw Hilly’s treatment of her maid in The Help – total and utter shock. I also struggled to wrap my brain around Bachman’s sheer lack of compassion, common sense, facts and cultural awareness.
I see Bachmann as poison to a free-thinking society. When our elected officials or those in the media make irresponsible comments about Muslims, they spread hate and fear among the masses. I still remember Connie Chung’s remarks that the Oklahoma City bombing was likely tied to Middle Eastern terrorism; later we learned that Timothy McVeigh had ties to white supremacy groups, the Christian Encampment and likely suffered from PTSD after serving in the first Gulf War.
Bachmann’s discriminatory remarks hurt our country. When people in positions of power misrepresent facts the news media takes that baton into every home in America. The hype around “home-grown Muslim terrorists” singles out Muslim-Americans who were born and raised here and that kind of irrational fear almost always increases the chances that I’ll be discriminated against at my next job interview.
Bachmann’s attack on Huma Abedin is not singular. Her accusations resonate with every Muslim-American citizen who lives and works in this country and every non-Muslim American who is trying to figure out what they’re supposed to believe about their Muslim neighbors and colleagues. A friend of mine said she believes Bachmann’s attacks are just another way to attack Clinton and the democratic party. And it’s sad that Bachmann is willing to endanger Abedin and other Muslim-Americans for political gain.
Each of us a little cautious of what we don’t understand. And while one can argue that it’s the individual’s responsibility to seek truth and learn to tolerate, I believe there is a greater social responsibility on the shoulders of public figures to approach sensitive issues with wisdom and tact. As an elected official Bachmann took an oath to “administer justice without respect to persons,” which she broke when she signed and sent that letter. Bachmann’s attack is a crude, primitive tool that oversimplifies and trivializes one’s image of Muslims in America.
Bachman is trying to promote fear of terrorists abroad when real terrorists like James Holmes are living in and terrorizing communities here in the U.S. No matter how hard Bachmann tries to define ‘terrorist’ as a word synonymous with ‘Muslim’ there is a different reality. Terrorists: T. J. Lane (Chardon, Oh. high school shooting) Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech massacre), Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine, Colo. high school massacre) and Jared Lee Loughner (Tuscon, Ariz. shooting) were not Muslim but all have a few things in common. They were males under the age of 30 struggling with mental health issues and attending and/or struggling at public educational institutions at the time of their premeditated crimes.
Based on Bachmann’s rationale of those who might pose a threat to Americans’ safety, maybe she should have written a letter to the FBI suggesting that they launch a thorough investigation into the Boy Scouts of America. Yeah, that sounds almost as ridiculous as her accusations against Abedin.