Islamophobic comments by members of Congress betray American values
At the beginning of December, a group of 50 Muslim staff on Capitol Hill wrote letter calling on House leaders to categorically reject “inflammatory rhetoric” in the workplace. More than 350 additional staff also signed the letter.
Imagine having to go to work every day knowing that because of your religion the people you sit and work with hate you.
The letter followed the posting of a video of Representative Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., Making hateful comments about Representative Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., A practicing Muslim. But the video was just the latest fanatic attack on Muslims in Congress, highlighting not only the issue of Islamophobia on Capitol Hill, but also how tragically America remains tolerant of Islamophobia and doubles. standards that exist when politicians engage in open bigotry towards Muslims and face little or no consequences.
Imagine having to go to work every day knowing that because of your religion the people you sit and work with hate you, fear you, and question your commitment and loyalty. Imagine walking your coworkers down the halls at work who you know are spreading lies about you, demonizing and denigrating your faith, and vilifying your community. And imagine, faced with all of this, having no recourse, no human resources department to which you can address your complaints, no boss committed to addressing your fears and concerns and remedying the hostile environment they oversee.
No one should have to put up with it. Yet these are the experiences of staff members and Muslim representatives who go to work on Capitol Hill every day, according to the open letter and three staff members I spoke to.
âAs passionate public servants, we have each chosen to pursue a career in public service to work for a better future for our country,â the letter read. However, the recent remarks by Representative Boebert have intensified the climate of Islamophobia on the Hill, creating a sense of anxiety and fear for many Muslim staff, our families and communities, and leaving many of us look to our Congressional leaders for Support. “
Islamophobia is nothing new in America. In fact, this is not new to the US Congress or to our politics. As the trends of recent years have shown, Muslims, their workplaces and organizations are always at the center of mass surveillance and bigotry. The Pew Research Center pointed out that in polls measuring how warmly Americans view religious groups, they put Muslims down with the atheists. In September, Pew reported that “opinions towards Muslims are increasingly polarized along political lines”, with Republicans more likely to associate Islam with violence.
In 2009, Representative Sue Myrick, RN.C., in the preface to a book titled âMuslim Mafiaâ, wrote that there had been an attempt by âradical Islamists to infiltrate our main institutionsâ. In 2012, Representative Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Falsely accused Huma Abedin, a Muslim who was a longtime collaborator of Hillary Clinton, of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and infiltrating the US government. Neither has suffered any significant consequences. Presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has constantly tweeted Islamophobic comments, called for “a total and complete stop of Muslims entering the United States. Democrats haven’t made the GOP’s hateful comments, but they haven’t been aggressive in combating hatred directed against Muslims either.
When the House discussed an anti-Islamophobia bill in response to Boebert’s comments, the debate only fueled further anti-Muslim rhetoric and hatred from some GOP members.
When Boebert was questioned for her comments implying that Omar was a terrorist, she offered what she claimed to be an apology via Twitter: âI apologize to all members of the Muslim community that I have offended with my comment on Rep Omar. ” The leadership of his party thought that was enough and was ready to move on with barely a mention. It seems like most of the time Congress just gets on with it. When the House discussed an anti-Islamophobia bill in response to Boebert’s comments, the debate did nothing but fueled more anti-Muslim rhetoric and to hate of some GOP members.
The question is: what allows Republicans like Bachmann, Myrick, Boebert and others to continue to spread sinister and disgusting lies that American Muslims in government are working on behalf of terrorist organizations to advance? extremist ideologies? If those we elect to defend and represent our values ââspew hatred and bigotry, then what does that say about our values ââand our society when it goes unpunished?
“Lauren Boebert plucks the fruit of a cancerous and diseased tree that was planted by the GOP two decades ago,” James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, told me in a recent interview on my program.
Look, politics in America is divisive, but it shouldn’t be hateful.
When can Rep. Steve King of Iowa made comments defending white supremacy and white nationalism on behalf of Western Civilization in 2019, he was removed from his committee position within a week. In 2021, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., (Who has her own history of Islamophobia) was stripped of its missions in committee for his apparent comments supporting violence against Democrats as well as his anti-Semitic rhetoric. Of course, defending white supremacy and spitting out anti-Semitism warrant punitive measures, but so does Islamophobia.
Meanwhile, Omar is traveling with additional security measures which are often reserved for senior members of the leadership of Congress. She regularly receives death threats attacking her faith, one of which she shared when she released a voicemail at a press conference.
Look, politics in America is divisive, but it shouldn’t be hateful. We must expect and demand better from our representatives and reject their use of hatred and bigotry to attack members of Congress, especially when the hatred targets the faith of another. Islamophobia sets a dangerous example for our children and our society.