BuzzFeed -- (John StantonSunday’s terror attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin has prompted some civil rights leaders and members of Congress to say aloud what has long been whispered on Capitol Hill: That the words and conspiracy theories of some of the most anti-Muslim legislators have grown dangerous.
No one has suggested any direct ties between the statements of lawmakers like Rep. Michele Bachmann and the attack on Sunday, which left six victims dead and several others injured. Indeed, the attacker, Wade Michael Page, had longstanding ties to white supremacist groups and deep roots in the racist fringe.
But voices, including those of her colleagues and leading civil rights figures, said the shooting — and a suspected arson attack at a Joplin, Missouri mosque that has previously be the target of anti-Muslim violence — added an urgency to Republican leaders’ efforts to tone down the rhetoric of lawmakers like Bachmann and Reps. Louis Gohmert and Steve King.
Bachmann, Gohmert and King declined to comment for this story, as did the offices of GOP leaders in the House and Senate.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Bachmann’s words contributed to this guy’s actions, but an atmosphere that prejudices and denigrates a people and a faith tradition does make it easier,” said Abraham Foxman, the longtime director of the anti-Defamation League, told BuzzFeed. “Loose language coming from people who have some standing does contribute to an atmosphere that legitimizes it.”
Sikhs are not Muslims, though they have been frequent victims of anti-Muslim attacks since September 11, 2001, in part because Sikh men’s traditional turbans make them look, to some, foreign.
And Bachmann’s words have primarily targeted Muslims. She last month led a small cadre of Republicans in an effort to “expose” Muslim government works, including Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, of having alleged (and unproven) ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
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