Muslim Americans See Beyond the Smears and Fears

All forms of bigotry rely on a blurring and covering up of reality.

Amid our turbulent politics, the presidential race, debates over the state of the economy and foreign policy there occasionally emerges a flame thrower from left field agitating hate and conspiracy theories; serving as a distraction from larger, more pressing issues. The past several weeks have witnessed Rep. Michele Bachmann’s unsuccessful foray into this infamous realm of political flame throwers.

Reproducing the “work” of Frank Gaffney, one of the leaders in today’s Islamophobia industry, Bachmann made the startling claim that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government. When pressed to support her statement by Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Bachmann forwarded a 16 page letter that was light on facts and heavy on innuendo and guilt-by-association smears.

Most of the media coverage has understandably focused on Rep. Bachmann’s slanderous and offensive maligning of Huma Abedin (Hilary Clinton’s deputy chief-of-staff), but there were other Muslim leaders and organizations who were smeared. Gaffney, working in tandem with Rep. Bachmann reiterated his conspiracy theory about “Muslim Brotherhood infiltration” in an article in the right-wing Washington Times. He took special aim at ISNA and its president Imam Mohamed Magid. Gaffney wrote about ISNA and Imam Magid,

…various known Brotherhood front groups such as…the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

As documented at MuslimBrotherhoodinAmerica.com, that senior Muslim Brotherhood operative has been an adviser to President Obama, feted at the White House and the State and Treasury departments, embraced by the Justice Department and used as the vehicle for serial apologies by the Pentagon.

MuslimBrotherhoodinAmerica.com is actually Gaffney’s own site, it advertises a “10 part course” with the scaremongering title of, “The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within.” Gaffney’s site makes the claim that Muslim groups like ISNA are waging a “civilizational Jihad” through legal means to “destroy the West from within.” The site contains only one mention of Imam Magid, (a rehashing of his work with the government) and is entirely devoid of any evidence of a link to the Muslim Brotherhood or any nefarious organization for that matter.

Of course, this is the case because none of these slanderous allegations are remotely true. They serve as a smoke screen to insulate those dazzled by the rhetoric of Islamophobes from the track record of ISNA.

As Jacob Hausner of Islamophobia-Today wrote regarding Gaffney’s Washington Times article,

The tarnishing of individual Muslims such as Huma Abedin or Imam Mohamed Magid and organizations such as ISNA and CAIR serve not only to obfuscate the truth and further marginalize American Muslims but also covers up the tremendous work and contribution these individuals and groups have, and are, making to our nation.

In reality, ISNA is a broad organization, that has made abundantly clear that it is in no way associated with or linked with the Muslim Brotherhood,

The Islamic Society of North America is an independent Muslim American organization governed by an elected council and led by an elected president. It has no affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, and has a membership that is too diverse in its religious orientation and so broad in its political views to be boxed into a singular ideological profile.

Instead of waging a “civilizational Jihad” against the USA, ISNA members have been working on strengthening their society by serving as medical doctors, public servants, professionals, professors, social workers, chaplains and soldiers.

Slanderous smears about ISNA seeking to “destroy the West” are a reminder of the extreme bigotry of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, such claims are only ever intended to demonize and marginalize minorities.

Such efforts are unlikely to succeed when one considers the tremendous grassroots work that ISNA is involved in, both domestically and internationally. If one searches the web to see what ISNA is up to, one sees ISNA’s participation and involvement in Habitat for Humanity; ISNA’s spearheading of the “Shoulder-to-Shoulder” interfaith campaign; ISNA’s efforts to promote religious freedom in Muslim majority countries such as Mauritania, and much more. ISNA has also been commended and highly praised by a number of politicians, interfaith groups and leaders, whose words hold more weight and are far more trustworthy than Frank Gaffney.

All forms of bigotry rely on a blurring and covering up of reality, but when truth breaks through the mold of hate it is a beautiful thing, as the backlash to Frank Gaffney’s propaganda proved. At the end of the day we would all do well to read and re-read Sen. John McCain’s stirring defense of Muslim Americans and American values, because it is acting on words such as these that we will truly progress as “one nation,”

“When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it.”