THE HILL, by Edward M. Gabriel, former US Ambassador to Morocco (Washington, DC, July 20, 2012) — As an Arab American, a Christian, and a former U.S. Ambassador who has been targeted by al Qaeda while serving my country, I am appalled and dismayed by the recent letters of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and four of her colleagues, Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.).
These letters to the Deputy Inspector General of the State Department unveil a phobia against Arabs, Muslims and the Islamic religion, rather than factual claims that point to any conspiracy to infiltrate the halls of our government agencies. They recklessly allege that certain federal employees have been influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood.
These allegations are from a widely discredited organization whose only purpose can be to harm individuals for their ethnic or religious identity. I thought this kind of hysteria, which she and her colleagues are promoting, ended during the Joseph McCarthy era. Now it looks like it is alive and well with the likes of Congresswoman Bachmann.
The information sources quoted in their letters are more associated with anti-Muslim sentiment than real national security claims. Even the FBI considered the claims made by their sources as “unsubstantiated” and “outdated.” Other investigations have found the claims by the principals associated with the information contained in their letters “reprehensible, baseless, false and unfounded.”
Sadly, these members of Congress are conveying that if you are of Arab descent or a Muslim, you are anti-American and out to destroy our country. I should not need to recall the achievements of the tens of thousands of Arab Americans and Muslims who, to this day, fight for our country, receive its highest honors, serve it with distinction and contribute to making the United States the greatest country in the world.
It is no wonder Congress has hit its all-time lowest approval ratings when it comes to being respected and trusted by the American people. This is the kind of hatred and misinformation that repels most Americans and discredits the country our forefathers founded to ensure “liberty and justice for all”.
What our forefathers had in mind is clearly spelled out in the first article of the Bill of Rights, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” A few extremists in Congress should not be allowed to distort what our country stands for, nor allow themselves to hide their prejudices and political agenda behind a pretext of national security issues.
I am a product of the American dream, like many of my fellow Americans, and the America we grew up in will not long tolerate any public official who distorts the truth, tears down another’s religion, fuels hatred towards people who don’t look or act like them, or conducts witch hunts in the name of national security.
We Americans may be patient with people who are ignorant and possess such prejudices, but we cannot and should not be tolerant of the few elected representatives who want us to fear other Americans, religions, classes, and nations. Our country and our people deserve better.
Edward M. Gabriel is the former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco, 1997-2001.