It is difficult at first glimpse to see how alleging a person has ties to a terrorist group could be amusing, considering the gravity of such an allegation in and of itself, not to mention the negative impact on the person toward whom the allegation is being made. But Jon Stewart took that difficult task and struck comedic gold with it Thursday night, addressing the recent allegations made by Rep. Michele Bachmann and several other Republican congresspersons against Huma Abedin, the long-time deputy chief of staff of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But how did he do it? Well, he simply used the same criteria against Bachmann that she used against Abedin.
Subtitling the segment "Smear and Loathing" (with a nod to the late Hunter S. Thompson), Stewart outlined what had been building for the last couple of months. Bachmann and company (of which includes probably the most ludicrous member of Congress, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, he of "terror babies" infamy) reached out a couple months ago to several agencies, stating their fears and belief that the U. S. government had been infiltrated to its highest levels with persons allied with or sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic political organization believed to support terrorist activities primarily in Egypt but in other parts of the Middle East as well. They have recently come to major political prominence in Egypt, capturing key parliamentary seats in the country's first elections, not to mention the presidency (Mohammed Morsi). Bachmann and crew have since produced a ream of documents supposedly supporting their claim, including a 16-page document created by Bachmann herself and sent to Rep. Ralph Ellison (D-Minn.) to defend the stance. She has also alleged that Huma Abedin, through her father, mother, and brother, is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.
(Ellison, by the way, is the only member of Congress that practices Islam.)
Bear in mind that the Muslim Brotherhood has performed terrorist acts in the past and is still viewed with caution as having ties to terrorist organizations. In fact, newly elected President Morsi recently spoke with an Hamas (a Palestinian organization) official. However, the Muslim Brotherhood is not on the terrorist organizations list kept by the U. S. government, and Morsi, through his meeting, is not considered a terrorist.
Needless to say, Bachmann's fears, charges, allegations, and calls for an investigation into radical Islamist infiltration have caused a firestorm of publicity. Not so much early on, possibly due to the fact that Bachmann (and, as mentioned, some of her colleagues) are known for their extreme views and political positions and not taken all that seriously. But now -- it's a different story.
There has been a naming of names. And not just any name, either. Huma Abedin is not only a practicing Muslim and the deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton (she's been associated with Clinton's office for nearly two decades), she is also the wife of former Rep. Anthony Wiener (D-NY). Well respected, Abedin was selected to Time magazine's list of "40 Under 40" in 2011, a list of young people that were seen as "rising stars in American politics."
Sen. John McCain took to the Senate floor Wednesday, spoke of the travesty of such slipshod reasonings used to besmirch Abedin's name, and castigated his fellow Republicans for using such egregious tactics against a person that they had no evidence against. Several other conservative politicians have since joined him in condemning Bachmann's allegations. The media also joined in the fray (of course), with CNN's Anderson Cooper probably having the harshest criticism.
So with this kind of material heavily weighted on the serious side, Jon Stewart sat at his desk at "The Daily Show" and proceeded to take apart Bachmann with her own "reasonably" thought-out case, turning it around to implicate the congresswoman via the same guilt-by-association methods.
After showing Abedin's very lax "six degrees of separation of people who don't eat bacon" from the Muslim Brotherhood through her father (a professor in Saudi Arabia and 20 years deceased) via a flow chart, Stewart adjudicated jokingly that Bachmann's case was "air tight." But Stewart also observed, "I think she’s [Bachmann] like the bus in the movie ‘Speed'... If she slows down too much, her mouth explodes with stupidity.”
Then it was Bachmann's turn. Stewart apply the "six degrees" criteria on the congresswoman.
“Earlier in the program, we learned the bank HSBC works with al-Qaida,” "The Daily Show" host said. “There must be some way to connect the Islamic terrorist money financiering bank directly to Michele Bachmann.”
Using a second chart, Stewart actually connected Bachmann to HSBC through a campaign donation of $1,000 made to her from the financial organization in 2008.
With only two degrees of separation...
"Maybe there should be an investigation,” Stewart mockingly suggested.
In fact, one might even go so far as to allege that Rep. Bachmann has engaged in verbal terrorism.
Although there are serious matters of national security concerns that often implicate people that are never suspected until caught, it must be pointed out that making light of Bachmann and her four buddies and their reckless insinuations about a respected person is necessary to put the matter in its proper perspective. By Bachmann's own criteria of guilt-by-association, a common fallacy that would never stand in a court of law, she is as close to being a terrorist sympathizer or facilitator or ally as is Abedin. And although Stewart's jokes perhaps interplays with dark humor given the subject matter, humorous it is.
But one thing is certain: Despoiling another's reputation simply because they are Muslim -- and perhaps partially because of her marital affiliations with a Democratic congressman -- simply to try to engender fear of something that seems to only exist in the minds of fear-mongering extremists is no laughing matter.
Perhaps Sen. McCain said it best when he called out Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, et. al. on the Senate floor: "When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it."
Watch Jon Stewart's amusing take on Rep. Bachmann's laughable allegations on "The Daily Show":
(photo credit: Office of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Wikimedia Commons)