How can one tell for sure that there's an election coming up? Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is busy trying to generate new fears about Muslims. Alex Seitz-Wald took a look at the right-wing lawmaker's new conspiracy theory, which is every bit as ridiculous as the previous ones.
The Minnesota Republican, joined by Republican Reps. Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Thomas Rooney and Lynn Westmoreland, sent letters to the inspectors general of five government agencies responsible for national security to demand they investigate infiltration by the Muslim Brotherhood into the highest reaches of the federal government. In particular, Bachmann singled out Huma Abedin, the wife of former congressman Anthony Weiner and a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In case Abedin hasn't already been through enough already, Bachmann is now questioning her loyalty to the U.S. by asserting that Abedin has three family members who are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood (Abedin is Muslim). She's been targeted before by anti-Muslim activists, and Bachmann notes that Abedin's position "affords her routine access to the Secretary and to policy-making." Bachmann also claims the state has "taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests."
The new witch hunt appears to have begun in earnest a few weeks ago, when Bachmann told a fringe religious right activist that "there has been deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood" and that security agents are no longer allowed to learn about terrorist attacks.
But intensity of the nonsense has only grown since. Bachmann suspects pro-Muslim forces have not only secretly gained influence in the State Department, but have also secretly gained influence at the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Justice. She also wants the Office of Director of National Intelligence to do an internal investigation to determine "the extent to which Muslim-Brotherhood tied individuals and entities were involved" in DNI activities Bachmann doesn't like.
Perhaps now would be a good time to note that, just last year, Bachmann was named to the House Intelligence Committee and won the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa.
Incidentally, Bachmann doesn't have credible evidence to bolster her strange theories, but that's apparently beside the point -- McCarthyism isn't about proof; it's about irrational fear and sowing seeds of distrust.
In 2010, the far-right used this effectively with the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque." It's reassuring that, at least for now, those who aren't laughing at Bachmann are ignoring her.