Gentle Reader, here's my outrage of the month: a Muslim-American civil rights organizaion accused by four congressmen of "conspiring" to place young Muslim Americans as interns in Congressional offices. How embarrassing. How totally ridiculous. Yet I have no doubt that all too many gullible Americans will swallow it hook, line, and sinker. (I can't wait to get my copy of "Muslim Mafia"!)
by Salam Al-Marayati
This week, four Republican members of Congress (Sue Myrick [R-NC], John Shadegg [R-AZ], Paul Broun [R-GA] and Trent Franks [R-AZ]) called on the U.S. House of Representatives' Sergeant-at-Arms to investigate a national Muslim American civil rights organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), for encouraging young Muslim Americans to intern in Congressional offices. The accusation, based on an internal incriminating document, is that CAIR has a secret strategy of trying to plant "spies" into Congressional offices through, that's right, planting spies in congressional internships.
I confess. I've met with Presidents Clinton, Bush and advised them on counter-terrorism strategy. I've met with the FBI Director and discussed what helps partnerships with Muslim communities and what hurts. I've spoken before the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security and at the Secretary of State's Open Forum. I am guilty of civic engagement.
What's next? Muslims trying to infiltrate the Congress by scheduling lobby days, or by simply meeting with their members of Congress? It's a testament to how far some right-wing conspiracy theories have come that even the normal behavior of any advocacy group can be used as so-called evidence of a dangerous, seditious and destructive "plot".
In a bizarre McCarthy-era like press conference on Monday, the four lawmakers quoted from a yet-to-be released Islamophobic publication entitled, Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America. Published by right-wing conspiracy headquarters WorldNetDaily, the publication is co-authored by Dave Gaubatz, who has repeatedly accused members of Congress and the President of trying to implement sharia (Islamic law) in the United States.
The authors of this book and their four GOP stooges on Capitol Hill have one major characteristic in common with Al-Qaeda -- they all believe in conspiracy theories. They hope to repeat a lie aggressively until it becomes a fact in the public consciousness.
The Republican House leadership must follow in the footsteps of Rep. John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Loretta Sanchez to condemn this vicious and unfounded attack, and restore some sense of integrity in the U.S. Congress. In a clear statement yesterday, Rep. Conyers said:
"It shouldn't need to be said in 2009, and after the historic election of our first African-American president, but let me remind all my colleagues that patriotic Americans of all races, religions, and beliefs have the right -- and the responsibility -- to participate in our political process, including by volunteering to work in Congressional offices, Numerous Muslim-American interns have served the House ably and they deserve our appreciation and respect, not attacks on their character or patriotism."
What is more astounding is that this group of Islamophobes sent a spy (Chris Gaubatz, the son of Muslim Mafia co-author David Gaubatz) into CAIR's national headquarters to gather documents to accuse Muslims of spying on the Congress. Sounds fitting that conspiracy theorist neocons use the very tactics they accuse their "enemies" of.
But, don't feel sorry for Muslim Americans. We are not the victims in this absurd episode. The real victims are the sorry folks who promote this type of racist un-American propaganda and actually believe in it. They need therapy. They need our forgiveness for making America look so bad.
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