CAPAC Responds to Islamophobic Insinuations by Members of Congress

Jul 31, 2012

Washington, DC – Recently, several conservative Members of Congress have made unfounded insinuations that Secretary Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin and Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-5) are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements denouncing these dishonest attempts to smear the reputations of distinguished public servants:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), CAPAC Chair:  “I am disappointed and disturbed by the unjustified attacks on Huma Abedin and Congressman Ellison simply because they are Muslim Americans. The fact that these insinuations were leveled by Members of Congress makes them that much more appalling and denigrates the office that we hold. National security is a priority for our country, but we must not resort to baseless racial or religious profiling. We should always remember the lessons of our past, when misguided hysteria and scapegoating led to the forced internment of over 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.  I am glad to see that Members of both parties have come together to speak out against these unfounded claims and defend the reputations of dedicated American public servants.”

Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), CAPAC Civil Rights Taskforce Chair: “The type of unfounded allegations directed at the deputy chief of staff for Secretary of State Clinton and other officials in our government have no place in our political discourse. These are honorable Americans devoted to service to their nation and the American people.”

Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15), CAPAC Chair Emeritus: “Representative Michele Bachmann’s allegations that Ms. Huma Abedin, Representative Keith Ellison, and other upstanding patriotic Americans in government have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood are a baseless, irresponsible, and dangerous McCarthyesque witch hunt.  These allegations generalize and target an entire community through the creation of an “enemy within,” and serve as a slippery slope that weakens our national security and promotes a culture of hatred.  I was less than one year old, when this country’s core mission—to live as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all—derailed as it fell to ‘war hysteria, racial prejudice, and a failure of political leadership,’ and incarcerated 120,000 Japanese Americans, myself included.  Today, millions of law-abiding and patriotic Muslim Americans have unjustly been marginalized, isolated, and violated by policies and actions that assume presumption of guilt and illustrate xenophobic hysteria.  The great thing about humanity is that we have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.  We have a moral obligation to be our brother’s and sister’s keepers, regardless of faith, ancestry, gender, or sexual orientation.  As Chair Emeritus and an American, I will continue the fight to ensure civil rights and civil liberties for all individuals, and stand with inclusion and harmony.”

Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (AS): “I am deeply disappointed at Rep. Bachmann’s xenophobic claims which have crossed the lines of civility in political discourse.  As an advocate for the fair treatment of a religiously and ethnically diverse Asian Pacific American community, I stand in support of two loyal American citizens – Huma Abedin and Congressman Keith Ellison – who serve their country well and who do not deserve such unfair treatment simply because of their religious faith. Muslim-Americans across this Nation contribute to their society every day.  Yet, the fact that such ignorant claims directed towards our fellow Americans are present in our own national legislature is evidence that when it comes to educating the public about cultural diversity we still have a long way to go.”

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-05): “Ms. Abedin and Congressman Ellison are dedicated Americans who have devoted their lives to public service.  I am proud to call them friends and colleagues. Baseless personal attacks and character assassination have no place in our political discourse, and I strongly condemn those who use them to advance personal ideological agendas.”

Congressman Joseph Crowley (NY-07):  “Our country was founded on religious freedom, tolerance and acceptance. When anyone, let alone a member of Congress, makes such irresponsible comments, it undermines the heart of what our nation stands for. I urge Rep. Bachmann and others to put an end to their attacks on two of our nation’s dedicated public servants: Congressman Ellison and Huma Abedin. The office of a member of Congress should be used to help build a stronger nation for all, not as a platform for propagating intolerance and discrimination.”

Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-29), Senior Member of the Intelligence Committee: “The unfounded allegations made by some members of the Intelligence Committee against Huma Abedin are deeply disturbing – and damaging to the committee's work and its reputation. The authors discredit themselves and are deserving of no further comment.”

Congressman Pete Stark (CA-13): “The offensive and dishonest comments that were sent by five Members of Congress to several federal agencies are shocking examples of the prejudice that exists against Muslim Americans in this country.  I am pleased to see that such thoughtlessness has been met with widespread condemnation.  I hope Congress can turn this unfortunate incident into something positive by working in a bipartisan manner to approach national security and intelligence policy smartly - not through discrimination and racial, ethnic, or religious profiling, but with logic and adherence to our Constitutional values.”

Congressman Chris Van Hollen (MD-08):  “These insinuations are a disturbing reminder of the prejudices that many Muslim Americans face today. I join my colleagues in condemning this dangerous display of fear mongering, which has no place in our country, let alone the United States House of Representatives. The baseless accusations made by some of my colleagues simply do not reflect the core values of our nation.”

 

On June 13, 2012, Representatives Michele Bachmann, Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Thomas Rooney and Lynn Westmoreland wrote a letter to Deputy Inspector General Harold W. Geisel requesting an investigation into alleged ties between Secretary Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin, and the Muslim Brotherhood.  Their unsubstantiated claims alleged an unprecedented infiltration of the United States government by a foreign political entity.

Congresswoman Bachmann later expanded on those charges unilaterally to include Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-5), the first Muslim American elected to the U.S. Congress. Her statements against Congressman Ellison can be found here.

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.