By Karen Finney - 07/23/12 10:51 PM EDT
During Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent trip to Egypt, protesters threw shoes and tomatoes at the motorcade because they believe the Obama administration rigged recent elections to ensure the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohammed Morsi (now elected president), would win, all part of a secret pro-Islamist agenda. Reports indicated protesters cited American blogs like Lucianne.com (founded by conservative Lucianne Goldberg, who played a role in the Monica Lewinsky scandal); former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney, known for his theory that the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to impose Islamic Shariah Law and infiltrate the American government; as well as recent claims by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) that the Obama administration has been infiltrated by loyalists to the Muslim Brotherhood, specifically naming Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff to Secretary Clinton, and that billions of American dollars had been paid to the Muslim Brotherhood rather than aid to the Egyptian military.
Having known Huma for over 15 years as a friend and former colleague, these politically motivated, racist, xenophobic charges are disheartening and truly disgusting. It’s further troubling that Bachmann’s ridiculous assertions have resulted in threats against Huma, who’s also a new mother, requiring police protection. Personal attacks have become part of the norm for public servants on both sides of the aisle in Washington’s partisan games. However, as senior Republicans like Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and strategist Ed Rollins have honorably made clear, this attack crosses any line of decency.
Comparisons to McCarthyism are appropriate, yet these accusations are further offensive because President Obama is the real target. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), a signatory with Bachmann, previously asserted that pregnant women from the Middle East come to the United States on tourist visas with the goal of giving birth here in a “terror baby” plot; Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) has called for an investigation into whether the Center for American Islamic Relations was infiltrating the U.S. government by placing interns in Congress. Like Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Donald Trump’s birtherism, or Romney-campaign claims that Obama “doesn’t understand America” or “The president has to stop denigrating American values,” they all feed into the narrative of the fearful “otherness” of our first African-American president. As we saw during the controversy over the proposed cultural center near Ground Zero, or the polls that show surprising percentages of Americans believe Obama was not born in America or is not a Christian, otherness fear-mongering, specifically targeting Arab people and Muslims, has been permitted to fester for too long. The result is a less globally competitive, internally divided country, unable to embrace change and move forward as a multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic, multireligious America bound by a Constitution that calls on us to respect the rights and freedoms of every citizen.
Karen Finney is a political analyst for MSNBC and Democratic consultant, and co-host of POTUS/Sirius XM’s “The Flaks.”