The Politics Of Fear And Hysteria

Republicans are rolling out a new line of attack for the midterms, conflating the issues of immigration and national security to make Democrats look like surrender monkeys on both. Zeke Miller flags the above ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which claims that ISIS militants are coming to America “through Arizona’s backyard” – with help from Dem Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, of course:

[T]he ad relies on a Sept. 10 writeup of a congressional hearing by the conservative Washington Free Beacon in which a Department of Homeland Security official was understood as telling lawmakers that ISIS “supporters are known to be plotting ways to infiltrate the United States through the border.” But a review of the testimony by DHS Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Francis Taylor tells another story. Instead, he said, “there have been Twitter, social media exchanges among [ISIS] adherents across the globe speaking about that as a possibility.” But that is a far cry from a direct threat, and light years away from a direct plot against the homeland.

Greg Sargent looks at a similar claim from Arkansas Senate candidate Tom Cotton:

Congressman Cotton’s version seems to go a step further, envisioning an active, ongoing collaborative effort between the Islamic State, and Mexican drug cartels who are looking to diversify by branching out into terrorism, whose end goal is to kill Americans on U.S. soil.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow has performed an anatomy of this developing story on the right. Blow concluded that it originated on a conservative website, which suggested that ISIS may be “working to infiltrate the U.S. with the aid of transnational drug cartels.” A Republican Congressman from Texas similarly said ISIS and Mexican drug cartels have been “talking to each other.” And from there, it was onward to Fox News. Some of the sources Blow found overlap with the Cotton campaign’s back-up materials from conservative media.

GOP politicians aren’t the only people wilding exaggerating the ISIS threat. As Zack Beauchamp notes, the jihadists themselves are only too happy to do the same. Zack offers up “a by-no-means complete list of some of the crazier threats”:

• Take over the White House. Abu Mosa, an ISIS spokesman, told Vice that “we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.”

• Conquer most of Syria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Iraq. An ISIS map shows the group controlling an implausibly large chunk of the Middle East.

• Ally with Russia to get Iranian nuclear secrets. A plan allegedly written by Abdullah Ahmed al-Meshedani, an ISIS leader with responsibility for foreign fighters, involves ISIS giving Russia access to Syrian natural gas to persuade Moscow to turn against Iran and Syria, as well as to help ISIS get nuclear weapons.

• Conquer Rome and then the world. In an address, ISIS chief Omar al-Baghdadi told his followers that “you will conquer Rome and own the world.” Rome.

• Destroy Iran using cheap Afghan carpets to undercut the Persian market. Also from the Meshedani document, this plan involves waging economic war on Iran by lowering prices in the rug market. The document also lays out designs on the Iranian caviar industry.