“This would be funny,” said Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Eugene Robinson, during his appearance on the Oct. 15 Rachel Maddow Show. “but it’s not funny because it’s dangerous and it’s bigoted…” He was referring to disturbing allegations of congressional espionage involving the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) raised by four Republican congressional representatives.
From “House GOP seeks Muslim ‘spy’ probe,” The Washington Times, posted Oct. 15:
[Rep. Sue Myrick (R) of North Carolina] and Republican Reps. John Shadegg of Arizona, Paul Broun of Georgia and Trent Franks of Arizona called Wednesday for an investigation by the House sergeant-at-arms into whether CAIR was successful in planting congressional interns.
“If an organization that is connected to or supports terrorists is running influence operations or planting spies in key national security-related congressional offices, I think this needs to be made known,” Mr. Broun said.
The humorous element is that their allegations are based upon highly questionable sources. The type of sources — one would think — that members of congress should avoid associating with.
These Republican Reps. have based their suspicions upon an internal CAIR memo, gathered surreptitiously by Chris Gaubatz, son of Dave Gaubatz, co-author of “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America.,” a book published by the right-wing conspiracy wasteland known as World Net Daily (WND).
Justin Elliott provided some personal background in a Oct. 15 Talking Points Memo post:
Gaubatz, who has long warned about the threat of Islamism in the United States, has claimed that he found Saddam’s long-lost WMDs while in Iraq and has labeled Obama “Muslim” and a “self-admitted ‘crack head.’”
The punch line, in this case, is that Rep. Myrick actually wrote the forward in Gaubatz’s book, and appeared quite comfortable displaying it during a press briefing.
Also on Oct. 15, Glenn Greenwald wrote a scathing assessment of Gaubatz’s website, “The entire site is filled with the most extreme and repugnant ant-Muslim paranoia imaginable…” Additionally, Greenwald addresses the House Republicans’ charges against CAIR:
They stand accused of plotting to influence members of Congress and trying to help interns obtain positions in Congress in order to advance their political agenda. That’s consistent with what virtually every political advocacy group in the nation does; it’s normally called activism and democracy…
…These House members highlight CAIR’s status as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Muslim charity case without noting that one of the most powerful groups in Congress has actually been directly involved in an espionage case against the U.S., while numerous other corporations which receive substantial largesse from Congress have been convicted of all sorts of serious wrongdoing.
The issues Greenwald noted as absent from the representatives’ alarmism is indicative of the four GOP Rep.’s motives. They appear to be highlighting their own prejudices, projecting their fear of a vastly underrepresented American minority upon those who lack the intellectual capacity or desire to question those accusations.
The four House Republicans who presented their demands to the press Thursday are engaging in the type of “enemy within” fear mongering reminiscent of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade during the 1950s, the negative impact of which was a needless and lingering sense of fear throughout the American populace.
What’s particularly dangerous about the GOP attack on CAIR is that the innuendo proffered by Reps. Myrick, Broun, Franks, and Shadegg becomes amplified by right-wing media outlets, already anxious to unquestionably disseminate it. The results of this combined hateful output are already being visited upon CAIR in the form of death threats.
Please feel free to share your opinion below, but when you do, consider the following: Thus far the above mentioned Republicans have called upon three different government agencies to look into CAIR. How are these agencies supposed to react when such spurious claims come with the supposed credibility generally allotted elected members of congress?
I’m most curious to see how the House GOP leadership reacts. All four of their members involved in attacking CAIR have reputations for inflammatory and/or racially incendiary rhetoric. They are a glaring reminder that the GOP desperately needs to address its, all too prominent, radical fringe.
“Our Vision, Mission and Core Principles.” CAIR.com – Read what CAIR is really about.
Spencer Ackerman, “Rep. Honda: Slander of Muslims Is ‘Slander Against Democracy and Religious Freedom.” WashingtonIndependent.com, 16 October 2009.
“Fox trumpets CAIR conspiracy theory charges made by author with anti-Islam history.” MediaMatters.org, 15 October 2009. – MMFA’s research department provides a comprehensive look at the attack on CAIR and the indaviduals behind it.
Image via flickr.com user - K3nna, via CreativeCommons.org