Far Right Fueling Anti-Americanism in Egypt

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.

13 comments on this post.
  1. theschwa:

    Remember: these kinds of actions are only treason when there is a Republican in the White House.

  2. dogmeat:

    One wonders how long it will be before Gohmert et al. start citing these Egyptian billboards and “common knowledge” as proof that Obama is involved with the Muslim Brotherhood. It would create an interesting and possibly infinite wing-nut feedback loop.

    Radical Socialist, Communist, Fascist, Atheist, Muslim (lizard-man from Mars) president tied to reactionary ultra-conservative Muslim Brotherhood tied to Radical Socialist, Communist, Fascist, Atheist, Muslim (lizard-man from Mars) president … [repeat]

  3. colnago80:

    This is rather fine considering that Obama and Bibi are being accused by Al Qaeda and other radical Muslim elements in the Middle East of conspiring with the Egyptian military to overthrow the Morsi regime. We can’t win for losing. An by the way, there are commentors on some of the blogs here making the same claims.

  4. Abby Normal:

    Far Right Fueling Anti-Americanism in Egypt

    The far right fuels anti-Americanism for just about everybody. The only question is if it’s because you believe them or if it’s because it spawned them.

  5. Abdul Alhazred:

    Considering how the USA has a (bi-partisan) history of arming both sides in the Mideast, this “conspiracy theory” isn’t really all that implausible once you strip away the BS about Obama being a “Kenyan Muslim usurper” etc.

  6. Chiroptera:

    “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.”

    I can totally see that. People unfamiliar with US politics would probably have a hard time conceiving that in the US, many of us choose to send our most ignorant, least intelligent citizens to our legislature. Sometimes to the White House, too.

  7. grumpyoldfart:

    Back in the old days the FBI would have let slip a few hints about what they had in his shit-file and that would have shut him up forever.

  8. colnago80:

    Re grumpyoldfart @ #7

    Not necessarily. Consider the case of then Congressman Cornelius Gallagher from New Jersey, who was under investigation by the FBI for accepting bribes. Gallagher told Hoover representative Roy Cohn that if Hoover didn’t lay off, he, Gallagher would go on the House floor every afternoon during speech time and talk about Hoover’s love affairs with his deputy, Clyde Tolson and other male partners. Indeed, Hoover did cease and desist. Gallagher was later unsnarled in the ABSCAN affair and eventually convicted and sent to the slammer.

  9. schism:

    Eh, the US’ continued existence also fuels anti-Americanism. Right-wing conspiracy nuts are just a convenient rationale for what people would believe regardless.

  10. Nick Gotts:

    the US’ continued existence also fuels anti-Americanism. – schism

    Canada also exists, as does Sweden and China. Why doesn’t that fuel anti-Canadianism, anti-Swedenism or anti-Sinicism to anything like the same degree?

    Both “Obama conspires with the Muslim Brotherhood/Al Qaeda” and “Obama conspired with the Egyptian military to overthrow Morsi” are, unfortunately, given a degree of plausibility by Obama’s own actions. In Syria, American (and other western) support for the rebels puts them on the same side as the Muslim Brotherhood (with which Qatar is closely aligned), and the Al Nusra Front, which is closely linked to Al Qaeda. Meanwhile in Egypt, Obama’s refusal to call the recent military power-grab a coup, which it quite clearly was, allows him to continue supplying arms to that military. Of course in both cases, Obama is simply acting in the perceived interests of the American elite, but these cut across the complex Sunni/Shi’a and Islamist/secular struggles in the Middle East – hence he can expect brickbats from all sides.

  11. Doug Little:

    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.

    So can we throw him in jail for hurting American interests abroad are release Chelsea Manning?

  12. Doug Little:

    Why is my previous comment in moderation? has something changed?

  13. schism:

    Canada also exists, as does Sweden and China. Why doesn’t that fuel anti-Canadianism, anti-Swedenism or anti-Sinicism to anything like the same degree?

    Canada, Sweden, and China don’t have a history of unnecessary interventionism in the area that resulted in culturally-ingrained grudges.

    I assumed that went without saying.

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