One unfortunate side effect of the internet–or for that matter, any form of human communication–is that people can make statements or claims about another person and it’s pretty likely that someone somewhere will believe it.
And you don’t need any proof to do this. You just need to be convincing, or have people who believe as you do listening.
Enter Michele Bachmann, the wingnuttiest of wingnuts in the modern conservative movement–so conservative, in fact, that she appear to have lapped the field and is coming around for another pass.
She’s been fanning the flames of a Muslim infiltration of the American government for a long time, pushing on with tailwinds like the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, wars in Iran and Afghanistan, and with the support of people around the country, and the tacit acceptance of her own party. She’s lobbed a couple of grenades over the last couple of weeks, apparently without any fear of being called out on it.
Yes, lots of people support her, and unfortunately, believe what she’s saying. And up until last week, she had the support of her party.
To be fair, others have pieced together nonsense, innuendo, falsehoods, and shreds of unrelated “evidence” for years to pin charges against politicians. And those people tend to do it for a variety of reasons: they’re delusional, hungry for media attention, or actually have the incredible ability to put this stuff out there with a straight face while still not alienating half of their electorate.
I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that she actually believes this, and if she can believe it, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are tens of thousands of people out there who believe the same thing.
There were a couple of stories I’ve read that talked to a few of her strong supporters, and one said that they just couldn’t believe that she’d make something like this up. Another is so sure there’s a widespread Islamic infiltration of our government (including by the President–a Christian, I may add), that he fully believes her without question.
But that doesn’t make it any less mind-boggling.
Let’s take the Keith Ellison accusations: whether or not he has “ties” to the Muslim Brotherhood or not (whatever the term “ties” means in that case), that doesn’t imply influence or even similar beliefs. But even if it did mean that, say, he was a member of the organization, and fully embraced their beliefs, wouldn’t he be working to overthrow the government? Wouldn’t he be working harder to get more Muslim Brotherhood members elected to congress? Because regardless of what anyone believes, our system is set up to be extremely hard to topple.
Sure, the Muslim Brotherhood has worked to overthrow Muslim and Coptic Christian leadership in Egypt, and has even stated after the Arab Spring uprising and replacement of the Egyptian government that they will not allow female or Coptic candidates for President. But they said they’d allow both in the government. And yes, they’ve taught Islam to people across Egypt and the middle east, but they’ve also built schools and established a large network of charitable organizations across the region.
In fact, even a former member of the Knesset has declared the Muslim Brotherhood more Arab and Egyptian than fundamental. And it has also been pointed out that while they’re passionate about their belief that “Islam is the answer,” they’re also not fanatics, and have been accused by Al-Qaida of being too weak on issues.
But remember that they pushed for a democratic system in Egypt, and spawned similar movements that have washed across the region displacing despots of several, horrible colors.
But here’s the thing that finally dawned on me today: they’re a religious movement which has a large political arm. In a sense, they’re very similar to the Tea Party and fundamentalist movements, which want a return to a fundamental Christian basis for governance and the law in this country.
It’s terrifying that it’s not just a fringe of the country who actually believe as Bachmann does about things like this. It’s scary that they cling to information sources that stay in the shadows and never can be fully proven. And where’s the proof that there is substantial support? She would have been censured by now by her own party if they’d really wanted to shut her up.
And just to finish up the thought, it’s despicable and dishonorable of her to have turned down all requests to comment on her accusations. Ellison has been elected through the same process she was. He took the same oath of office that she has. He has earned his title of Congressman just as much as she has. As such, there’s a professional decorum that belongs here, and at the very least, she owes him a public apology or an explanation of her charge.
That’s just the polite and Christian–and Islamic–thing to do, right?
See you tomorrow.