U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota recently caused quite a stir when she accused one of Hillary Clinton’s closest advisers, Huma Abedin, of being part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot to take over America. In the face of criticism, the one-time favorite for the Republican presidential nomination then began to lob accusations at others, including U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim congressman, who happens to represent the district next to Bachmann’s.
What is unusual about Bachmann’s attacks is that they were quickly denounced by senior members of her own party.
U.S. Sen. John McCain, one of the leading voices among Republicans, called the attacks “ugly” and “sinister.” The speaker of the House, John Boehner, also expressed outrage. Surprisingly, within a party that has so often peddled problematic rhetoric, Bachmann’s unfounded remarks garnered little support.
While this reaction is commendable, the situation left me with an uneasy feeling.
While it’s certainly laudable that Speaker Boehner and Sen. McCain spoke up, where have they been over the past few years?
Where were they as their party took a sharp right turn, slandering not just Muslims but also gays, Hispanics and women? Did they just now realize that Bachmann and her cohorts have been saying insane things for years?
Where was the Republican leadership in September 2011, when Bachmann (who sits on the House Intelligence Committee) blatantly lied during the campaign, saying that the life-saving HPV vaccine “ravages” young girls?
Where were they in January 2012, when Newt Gingrich demeaned commentator Juan Williams, who happens to be African-American, for asking a question about racial discrimination at a debate on Martin Luther King Day?
Where was the Republican leadership in March 2010, at the height of the health-care debate, when tea party protesters hurled hateful epithets at U.S. Reps. Barney Frank, Andre Carson and John Lewis?
This group of congressmen just so happens to consist of an openly gay man, a Muslim man and a respected civil rights leader.
Defending Huma Abedin from anti-Muslim slurs is well and good, but it’s very easy to do. She’s one of the most successful women in the country, and her service to this nation needs no defense.
However, there are many less powerful people who have been demonized and dehumanized by the dangerous rhetoric of the far right over the past several years, and I’m very disappointed that McCain and Boehner only seem to speak up when it’s convenient instead of when it’s necessary.
Political sign of disrespect
Everyone has a right to have signs about their favorite candidates in their yards, but there is one sign that I find truly offensive and in questionable taste. The sign reads: “Pro-America/Anti-Obama.”
To call President Obama anti-American is disrespectful and truly repugnant.
I have lived long enough to remember the McCarthy era and its witch hunts.
During the George W. Bush years, people were often called unpatriotic if they didn’t agree with the administration. Now this.
Are we moving into another era of intolerance and name calling?
At the very least, that sign shows disrespect for the office and, by extension, to the people of the United States.
Reliance on coal puts public at risk
Does FirstEnergy have something against clean air and clean water (“FirstEnergy agrees to environment orders,” July 30)? Its reliance on dirty coal puts the public at risk from air pollution when coal is burned and from water contamination when toxic coal ash is stored.
FirstEnergy needs to clean up its act. Better energy efficiency programs would be a good start, by reducing the need to burn more coal.
And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should be obligated to put standards on coal ash waste to keep heavy metals out of our drinking water.