Rob L. Wagner روب لستر واقنر

July 23, 2012

OP-ED: The New McCarthyism

By Rob L. Wagner

Arab News/Eurasia Review

23 July 2012

In 1953, young reserve Air Force lieutenant Milo Radulovich lost his security clearance for maintaining a“close and continuing relationship” with people who were communists or had communist sympathies.
Those people? His father and sister.
Radulovich’s crime was that his father read Serbian newspapers. One was identified as a communist publication by the US government. His sister held “liberal” views but described herself as “apolitical.” Radulovich was involved in no political causes and had an exemplary record as a US military officer.
Radulovich, who died in 2007 aged 81, was perhaps the most well known victim of McCarthyism that swept the United States in the 1950s when Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy claimed communists were infiltrating the US State Department. Victims caught up in the hysteria included rank and file government workers, teachers, academics, actors, and film producers and directors. Radulovich was ultimately vindicated but his life was irrevocably changed forever as he found it difficult to find meaningful employment for many years.
McCarthyism is a disease that Americans suffer when things don’t go well. In the 1950s it was the postwar anxieties over the arms race with the Soviet Union, unspoken demand for conformity that pushed women into the kitchen and the burgeoning civil rights movement that made many whites uncomfortable if not hostile. Today it’s a ruinous economy and the emergence of radical social conservatives who seek to control the personal lives of individuals.
Today’s disciple of Joseph McCarthy is Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. She and her four GOP cohorts have sent letters to five US government agencies claiming there are “serious security concerns” over the Muslim Brotherhood’s “deep penetration in the halls of our United States government.”
She is also demanding an investigation into whether Huma Abedin, an American Muslim aide to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Abedin is a Michigan native, grew up in Jeddah and joined Hillary Clinton’s staff as an intern in 1996. She has been by Clinton’s side ever since. Abedin holds a Ph.D from the University of Pennsylvania and made Time magazine’s list of “40 under 40” as the new generation of civic leaders.
However, Bachmann alleges that Abedin’s Indian father Syed Zainul Abedin, who died in 1993, and her Pakistani mother, Saleha Mahmood Abedin, also a holder of a Ph.D and associated with Dar Al-Hekma College, are linked to Muslim Brotherhood.
Bachmann’s evidence? Well, no one knows for sure. Bachmann says she has it, but hasn’t shown it to anybody. Of course, this is a page ripped from the McCarthy playbook when the senator made outrageous allegations of communist infiltration into the US government while holding a manila envelope he claimed held the names of subversives. Bachmann, like McCarthy, is not showing anybody her “evidence,” but it doesn’t matter. She has smeared Abedin, casting a shadow over her nearly 20-year career of public service.
I don’t know whether Abedin’s parents are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and I certainly don’t care. Syed Abedin has been dead for 19 years and her mother is involved in one of the most liberal institutions in Saudi Arabia.
Republicans, who usually are in lockstep with one another, have taken issue with Bachmann’s dangerous attacks.
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said from the Senate floor that “these attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis and no merit, and they need to stop now.”
Lack of logic is an understatement. Abedin is married to former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is pro-Israel and Jewish. If she is a fifth columnist, then she has gone above and beyond the call of duty for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Of course, there is no evidence that she has any such connections. Yet Bachmann is not satisfied with going after just Abedin, but also Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison, another prominent American Muslim. Ellison said recently Bachmann made the allegations about the Muslim Brotherhood for political gain and demanded she back up her claims with evidence.
Bachmann responded by telling the right-wing Glenn Beck in an interview that Ellison “has a long record of being associated with (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) and with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Ellison didn’t take the bait. “I knew when I raised the issue of her unfounded accusations of disloyalty that sooner or later she was going to get around to accusing me,” he told reporters recently. “I will say for the record that her allegations are false.”
Bachman’s allegations against Abedin and Ellison will likely fade away, but she gains ground by making any Muslim in a high-profile government job — whether it’s a judgeship appointment, aide or to an elected post — a political target and potential victim to slander. Muslims are the 21st century communists and America’s new demons served up by the radical right.

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