Michele Bachmann is at it again, and this time she’s invited a little bit of racial and religious profiling to her Tea Party.
Last month, Bachmann penned a letter to the State Department’s Inspector General claiming Huma Abedin, deputy Chief of Staff to Hillary Clinton, is both connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and using her connections to infiltrate the U.S. government.
For those who haven’t heard of Huma Abedin, she has worked for Hillary Clinton for nearly two decades. In that time, she served as “Traveling Chief of Staff” in Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and acted as a close aide and confidant. Born in Kalamazoo, MI, Huma grew up in Riyahd, Saudi Arabia, where her parents were well-respected professors. She returned to the U.S. to attend George Washington University, and began interning with the Clinton administration soon after.
Given Abedin’s sterling reputation, it’s tempting to dismiss this as yet another Bachmann inaccuracy— remember when she thought HPV vaccines caused mental retardation? However, this falsehood bears consideration because of how obviously it exposes Islamophobia in a nation led by a president that has just pledged support for an Islamist party in Egypt.
The irony is painfully palpable. And, to be clear, the majority aren’t entertaining Bachmann’s allegations; John Boehner and John McCain were among the first to rush to Abedin’s defense. “These allegations about Huma, and the report from which they are drawn, are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant,” McCain said from the Senate floor.
When placing Bachmann’s baseless slandering of Abedin in the context of Islamophobia, it is tempting to ask: Why are Muslims so scary? The real question should be: Why are we so scared of Muslims?
Perhaps it is as Washington Post writer Arsalan Iftikhar suggests, their whopping two members (out of 435) of the House of Representatives, or their absence of senators, governors, and Supreme Court justices. But that couldn’t suffice, right? Perhaps it is the Muslim Brotherhood’s immense role in the development of democracy in both Egypt and Libya. No, still not it.
The irrationality of the very claim belies the gravity of the truth; Americans grow fearful from their own ignorance and therefore act with hostility. While Bachmann’s claims are extreme, her accusations indicate a widespread culture of suspicion towards Muslims. For now, Bachmann’s Tea Party is contained, but if Americans aren’t careful, it won’t be long before the tea boils over and innocent people get burned.