Like the ghosts of Shakespeare's Banquo or Dickens' Jacob Marley, the specter of the late commie-hunting congressman from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, will always be with us. It is summoned up today, by some on the left, who use it as a tool to thwart legitimate questions about people and ideologies that seek to destroy America.
According to many commentators, the McCarthy spirit has inhabited Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). In several letters to high-ranking government officials, Bachmann has raised questions about Huma Abedin, a Muslim-American, who is deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Bachmann's concern is Abedin's relatives in the Middle East some of whom -- such as Abedin's mother -- she claims "are connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations." Abedin's job, according to Bachmann, "affords her routine access to the secretary and to policy-making." And, as a result of that access, says Bachmann, "The State Department, and in several cases, the specific direction of the secretary of state, have taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests."
Sen. John McCain says Abedin is "a dedicated American." Even if he is correct, the larger issue is being obscured. Many in government and the media don't want to face the possibility that infiltration is a tactic of Islamic extremists who repeatedly say they want to destroy not only Israel but the "Great Satan" America. Such objectives should be taken seriously, given their violent history.
If you revile Rep. Bachmann, perhaps former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is more to your liking. Charles Moore of the London Daily Telegraph writes that Blair "...now thinks he underestimated the power of the bad 'narrative' of Islamist extremists. That narrative -- that 'The West oppresses Islam' -- 'is still there; if anything, it has grown.' It seeks 'supremacy, not coexistence.'" Blair also expressed fear that "The West is asleep on this issue."
Blair's view is echoed in "Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat" a new book by Michael Widlanski, a specialist in Arab politics and a former journalist for mainstream publications such as The New York Times, the Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution and The Jerusalem Post. Widlanski's main point is that political correctness has stifled the West's ability to understand and fight terror.