On July 15 while visiting Egypt, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had her motorcade pelted by tomatoes and shoes by a mob of angry protestors. You don’t have to be a charter member of the Hillary fan club to be bothered by this. They weren’t just attacking Clinton; they were attacking the U.S. itself, as evidenced by the nature of the signs they bore. And what starts out as footwear and a fruit often mistaken for a vegetable quite easily could develop into shoe bombs and bullets.
But what makes the incident particularly interesting is that — again, as evidenced by the signs — the mob was angered over a mistaken impression that the United States had interfered in Egypt’s elections. Egyptians, it appears, are just as capable of gullibility as Americans. And they got that false impression from some of Clinton’s fellow Americans — specifically, from several character assassins who are obsessed with bringing down President Obama and anyone connected with him at all costs.
Most conspicuously, the rumor mill was cranked up by some of Clinton’s fellow government officials. Five members of Congress, all Republicans (surprise!) sent letters to intelligence and security officials, warning them of a vast Muslim conspiracy to infiltrate the U.S. government, singling out Clinton aide Huma Abedin, whom they alleged had “ties” to the radical group Muslim Brotherhood. (Abedin subsequently has fielded death threats.)
Foremost among them was Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, who has a long history of making batshit loony utterances — and then denying it ever happened when she gets called on it (As Jon Stewart so hilariously points out, Bachmann’s own “ties” to the Muslim Brotherhood are much more direct than Abedin’s.)
This time, her remarks were so over-the-top that even several of her fellow Republicans chastised her. (If you thought today’s GOP was just one big loony bin, you weren’t entirely correct.) As Ron Reagan, son of the supposedly quintessential “conservative” put it, “If crazy were people, Michele Bachmann would be China.” Speaker of the House John Boehner at least paid lip service to adulthood, noting that “I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.” Nonetheless, he declined to consider removing her from the House Intelligence Committee, commenting that “I don’t know that that’s related at all. ” (What the hell’s she doing there in the first place? And if you don’t know a simple thing like that, what the hell are you doing there, John?)
Arizona Senator John McCain was more blunt, and more eloquent:
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.
Even one of her former advisers urged her to put a sock in it and apologize. Instead, she made another unfounded allegation of terrorist ties against Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim to be elected to Congress. In the eyes of many right-wing extremists, you see, all Muslims are potential terrorists.
But not to worry, Bachmann has plenty of fellow loonies who are willing to back her up. Glenn Beck even gave her a radio forum to encourage her. There are lots of people out there who equate (their own) ideology with patriotism and everything else with anti-Americanism. Unable to grasp the fundamental fact that there are other American values besides their own, they conclude that anyone who doesn’t conform to their ideology is hell-bent on bringing down the country.
Just recently I saw a sticker that said “I’m anti-Obama because he’s anti-America”. There may be plenty of good reasons for being anti-Obama, but they do not include regarding him as “anti-America” because his values are different from yours. Actually, most Obama haters really don’t have values that different from Obama’s; they’ve just been conned into believing they do. Many of them spend too much time listening to the likes of the ever-adorable Sarah Palin, who just recently stated:
So if Obama is reelected, well, America, you will no longer recognize the country that today you truly love and can enjoy all of its freedom and prosperity and security if Obama is reelected because this “ObamaCare” is a harbinger of things yet to come.
And the ever-quotable Bachmann has said:
I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?
Remember, this woman keeps getting elected, so it appears that someone out there is actually voting for her. She has a support base of people who denounce as anti-American anyone whose principles or policies they don’t like, yet they enthusiastically support someone who actually incites — through dishonest claims — riots against American officials. The irony is so thick you could use it for a hockey puck.
(Incidentally, Rachel Maddow offers a brilliant commentary on this incident, and in the process illustrates the typical difference between left-wing punditry and right-wing punditry — “we love our village idiots” vs. “these scumbags are destroying America”.)