Chris Hayes had a report Monday night about how statements from Rep. Louis Gohmert about Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the Obama administration are being used in Egypt to fuel anti-American sentiment. Talking Points Memo reports on the same thing.
When Rep. Louie Gohmert floats conspiracy theories, Americans across the political spectrum tend to roll their eyes and ignore him. But one of his more feverish conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama’s ostensible ties to the Muslim Brotherhood could be fueling dangerous anti-American sentiments in Egypt and potentially complicating U.S. foreign policy in the region, experts say.
For months, the five-term Republican congressman from Texas has been claiming that the Obama administration has been infiltrated by members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are steering U.S. foreign policy and emboldening terrorists.
“This administration has so many Muslim Brotherhood members that have influence that they just are making wrong decisions for America,” Gohmert told the conspiracy-friendly World Net Daily radio back in April, in just one example of such claims…
But in Egypt, where the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government was recently ousted by the country’s military after the people turned against it, it’s a different story. Anti-American conspiracy theories are rampant there, for a variety of reasons related and unrelated to U.S. foreign policy, and hearing it from a United States congressman lends credibility to the theory that the U.S. is teaming up with the Muslim Brotherhood — and even Al-Qaeda — to destroy Egypt.
“I guarantee you nobody in Egypt really knows who Louie Gohmert is or what he’s about. So they could very well point to this and say ‘Look! He’s a member of Congress. This must be serious. There must be something to it,’” said Steven A. Cook, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It doesn’t help in a political environment where everyone is already angry at us to be fueling conspiracy theories against us. In that way it enables an overall level of hostility toward the U.S.”
Shadi Hamid, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution, conceded that he hadn’t even heard of Gohmert until TPM reached out to him. “As for the role it plays,” Hamid said, “look, this does provide real ammunition to the conspiracy theorists when you have American sources seemingly verifying what they are saying.”
“It lends these bizarre theories a new code of legitimacy and amplifies them,” he said. “When Egyptians see this, they don’t realize that just because a U.S. congressman is saying this that it can be wrong or that he can be lying publicly.”
The New York Times reported Monday that the U.S.-Brotherhood conspiracy theory has become “widespread” in Egypt, even to the point of being seen by some as common knowledge. Billboards and posters in Egypt tie President Obama to the Brotherhood and accuse him of supporting terrorism against Egypt. And segments of the pro-military Egyptian media have been playing a YouTube clip of Gohmert speaking on the House floor, spliced with ominous background music, likening the Obama administration’s aid to Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi’s government with assisting terrorists.
But this isn’t limited to Gohmert. This has become standard rhetoric on the far right, from Frank Gaffney to Pam Geller to the Worldnetdaily to the 700 Club.