A day after making the case for tolerance of gays and Muslims, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) defended his colleague Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) Islamophobic quest to root out supposed Muslim Brotherhood “deep penetration” of the U.S. government. Cantor lent credence to Bachmann’s claims by saying her accusations came from her “concern about the security of the country,” and then professed ignorance about her allegations.
CBS host Charlie Rose asked Cantor about his comments to BuzzFeed on Thursday that “It’s a bad thing to look at a Muslim and think bad things.” Cantor was explicit to BuzzFeed that he was not discussing Bachmann, but Rose asked him directly about her allegations:
ROSE: Do you think Congresswoman Bachmann was out of line? I mean, it does not square with this?
CANTOR: Well, again, I think that if you read some of the reports that have covered the story, I think that her concern was about the security of the country. So that’s about all I know.
Watch the video:
That Cantor would plead ignorance about Bachmann’s quest stretches credulity: the issue has become a national story with nightly news coverage over the past two weeks.
While some Tea Partiers, right-wing media figures like Glenn Beck and even one Romney adviser have supported Bachmann’s paranoid endeavor, other Republicans had no problem denouncing her witch-hunt. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and others did so last week to much media hoopla.
This isn’t Cantor’s first brush with Islamophobia — and, just like the last two days, he’s ended up on both sides of the story before. In 2011, Cantor endorsed fellow Virginia Republican David Ramadan, a practicing Muslim whose successful bid for a seat in the state House of Delegates was opposed by the Islamophobe Frank Gaffney, the progenitor of Bachmann’s charges. Earlier that year, though, Cantor co-hosted a Capitol HIll screening of a film by the Islamophobic Clarion Fund, where Gaffney sits on the board.