Some time back when I was younger and wars were Cold a Senator from Wisconsin named Joseph McCarthy had the country in a panic because he was convinced that Communists and Russian spies were infiltrating not only the government but also the entertainment and news industries around the country. Rumor has it that he got the number 57 from a ketchup bottle and insisted that there were 57 known Communists in the government (later adding to that number as whim dictated). The witch hunt began, giving birth to the word “McCarthyism” and involving daily coverage on TV; it took months before things were restored to normal and it was determined that it was a tempest in a teapot. McCarthy was censured by the Senate though in the meantime careers were destroyed and hatred and fear were prevalent in the country.
Apparently McCarthy is back in the person of Michele Bachmann, a Representative from Minnesota, who is trying to rouse the rabble over the notion that the Muslims are taking over our government. The Huffington Report recently noted that Rep. Michele Bachmann says the Muslim Brotherhood, the international Islamist movement that recently came to power in Egypt, has made “deep penetration” within the U.S. government, and she wants an investigation of its influence within five federal agencies.
Bachmann’s charges were included in a letter signed by three other Republicans and sent to federal defense, diplomatic, intelligence, and law-enforcement agencies calling for an investigation into this Muslim Brotherhood. There is no talk about what, precisely, the nature of the threat from this group happens to be though the group which recently came to power in Egypt is reputed to seek to unite traditional Islam with modern democracy. Wikipedia tells us, further, that the group is a “model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work.. . .The movement has been criticized by al-Qaeda for its support for democratic elections rather than armed jihad.” One would think these qualities suggest a group this country would seek to befriend, not fear.
Bachmann’s alarm appears to be the rantings of a hysterical women at a particularly difficult time in the history of this country. We face serious and complex problems that need to be addressed by our government. Suspicion and distrust already run deep, as does the chasm between the political parties. It is poor timing, at the very least, to call for an investigation at this time. It’s not clear that there ever is a good time for a witch hunt, but these are definitely not the times. The country is in debt and the economy is in a recession that some might call a depression (especially those who cannot find any work). An investigation would take time, money, and attention away from real problems in order to conduct a search for a group of people who may or may not pose a threat to this country.
Bachmann was a recent candidate for the Republican nomination, as you will recall. Perhaps she merely wants to call attention to herself once again. It must be difficult after all to be relegated to the shadows after being in the bright lights even for a brief moment. One hardly knows what her motivation might be. But I suspect she is exhibiting a knee-jerk reaction to the word “Muslim,” a religious group that in itself is peace-loving and deeply religious and has no desire to “take down” this country — though there are elements within the group that most assuredly do. We might begin by trying to understand the groups better and see how they differ from one another.
One could say, looking at things from another perspective, that there are Americans who want to turn the rest of the world into a mirror-image of themselves, arm themselves to the teeth, and are willing to resort to any means to achieve that end. I expect we can seem frightening to people in other parts of the world. Much depends on one’s point of view. And we need clarity and dispassionate thought, not emotional rantings. Instead of a witch hunt let’s try to understand one another. How about that, Michele?
In the end, this is sheer hysteria and the call for a witch hunt is not only something we should have learned in the 1950s can tear the country to pieces, it is something that no civilized people should even contemplate.