Arab Voting Power Makes Bachmann a Romney Liability
Michele Bachmann is flailing around accusing all the US government officials of Muslim heritage of being connected to the Muslim Brotherhood (which in turn she misunderstands as a radical group). Not only did she attack the aide to Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, but when Rep. Keith Ellison complained about her McCarthyite campaign, she launched the same accusation at him (Ellison is one of two Muslims in the Congress).
Bachmann’s bizarre behavior (there, I’ve been redundant) is alarming the Republican establishment. Even right wing poobah Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), head of the House intelligence committee, after initially supporting her, has backed away from Bachmann’s nuttiness, at least on this issue.
Given her own strong ties to the Iranian terrorist organization, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK or People’s Holy Jihadis), Bachmann is in a weak position to accuse other people. The MEK was involved in taking US diplomats hostage, and then in the 1990s allied with Saddam Hussein. In fact, her colleagues in Congress should investigate if she has taken money from the MEK, or has given them material assistance. She is, I’ve argued much closer to the Muslim Brotherhood than the people she is accusing. It is extremely scary that this woman is on the House Intelligency Committee. She would even be in a position to share US intelligence with MEK terrorists.
Establishment Republicans are increasingly dissociating themselves from her just because they don’t want to be tarred by her brush. And, in general, you don’t want the Republican brand being dominated by Bachmann in an election year. But there is another consideration that may have them running from her.
Just as Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s campaign against Latinos has helped deprive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney of support in that community, Bachmann’s targeting of Muslim-Americans and, implicitly, Arab-Americans, could hurt Romney in those communities.
One of Romney’s strategies for winning enough votes in the electoral college to become president is to target the big Midwestern states of Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Those three all have significant Arab-American and Muslim-American communities. The Arab-Americans in Michigan are often considered a swing vote, since the state is pretty evenly divided otherwise. They had tended to vote Republican in the 1990s, but George W. Bush’s wars in the Middle East and his alliance with the worst elements in the evangelical community and the right wing of the Israel lobby drove them into the arms of the Democrats. See this VOA report on how Arab-Americans (who include both Muslims and Christians) are trending Democrat
The Midwestern states could be close, and even small communities could turn the election to one side or another. Remember how Florida in 2000 hung on just a few hundred votes. Well, there are over 250,000 Arab-Americans in Florida. Probably at least half of them are Christians, but they can all tell when someone is prejudiced against their culture.
Florida has over 250,000 Arab-Americans now– enough to be a swing vote given how close Florida elections are:
Muslim-Americans also have significant communities all through the swing states:
Everyone knows that Bachmann is a Republican and former primary candidate for the presidential nomination on that party ticket. Her antics may impress people in Anoka, MN (though how, I can’t imagine). But the Muslim-American and Arab-American voters are unlikely to be amused.
- Re-Election: The Arab-Americans Obama Has To Thank MAI ABDUL RAHMAN: Single women and Latinos had a key role to play in re-electing Barack Obama but Arab-Americans played a major part as well. ...
- Muslims: The Victims of ‘The New McCarthyism’ ROB L. WAGNER: The odious campaign by Michelle Bachmann against Huma Abedin marks the real beginning of a potentially disastrous period in U.S history ...
- Bachmann: Muslim Brotherhood Secret Agent? JUAN COLE: Could it be the ultimate double bluff? The woman who is charging that the U.S government is infiltrated by the MB could be an agent herself? ...
- Romney: Hapless in London, Insulting in Israel JUAN COLE: The trip of Republic Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to Israel is in bad taste for lots of reasons. Here are just 10 reasons as to why......
- A Brief Middle East History Lesson for Mitt Romney JUAN COLE: The Presidential candidate appears to be entirely clueless about the recent history of US involvement in the region. Heres' some help. ...
- Romney’s Middle East: So, Who is the Enemy, Mitt? JUAN COLE: Romney clearly doesn’t have the slightest idea what he is talking about, and seems intent on alienating 1.5 billion Muslims...
by Juan Cole
Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three decades, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. He continues to study and write about contemporary Islamic movements, whether mainstream or radical, whether Sunni and Salafi or Shi`ite. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years.