Back in 2015, U.S. Rep. André Carson's (D-IN) was forced to drop out of a panel and renounce ties to an Islamist organization that federal prosecutors once dubbed "the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America." Today, an American public once wary of Islamic extremism is even more leery of attracting allegations of "Islamophobia," thus granting Carson the social currency to heap praise on the same, previously reviled Islamist group.
Carson first became acquainted with the Muslim American Society in 2015, when journalists reported that he planned to speak at an MAS panel that featured Mazen Mokhtar, whom federal investigators accused of operating a website that solicited donations for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and encouraged attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He subsequently denied his scheduled attendance, and his name was stricken from the convention's list of speakers.
Yet, Carson had no qualms with attending MAS's thirtieth anniversary gala, where the congressman commended the group for its "fundraising" capacity and "building the next generation of leaders." This time, Carson's fellow panelists were only slightly less interesting than Mokhtar. For instance, attendees heard from Yasir Qadhi, a prominent pseudo-Salafist imam who has matured from a past filled with antisemitic and anti-gay tirades to more recently deploring "Zionist greed" and supporting mandatory hijab laws.
Eight years after his embarrassing withdrawal from an MAS convention, Carson and his fellow Muslim American legislators openly and defiantly associate with Islamists, because they can. This makes lawful, non-violent Islamists more dangerous than ever.
Benjamin Baird is the Director of MEF Action, a project of the Middle East Forum.