A Republican congressman says terrorists from Hamas could purposely infect themselves with the Ebola virus and then travel to America. Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina was asked Thursday, during a question-and-answer after a speech, about the threat of Ebola entering the country through the U.S.-Mexico border. Referring to the "hypothetical," Wilson said, "I'm very concerned. We had people who, I'll repeat it, the creed of Hamas: We value death more than you value life. What? That's their creed." The South Carolina congressman suggested that to promote their ideology, Hamas militants could send themselves to the United States, a situation he said could be avoided by sealing the southern border.
After nearly 14 years in Congress, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) seems to have generated national attention just once: he shouted "You lie!" during one President Obama's speeches to a joint session of Congress.
But the far-right South Carolinian is still out there, and regrettably, he's still saying odd things.
Apparently, Republicans are increasingly invested in the notion of disease-ridden Islamic State militants somehow contracting Ebola on purpose and somehow entering the United States. This is a deeply foolish argument that's taken root in the far-right fever swamp.
But to throw Hamas into the mix is very strange, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that Hamas and ISIS aren't allies. For that matter, Hamas has no apparent interest in attacking the United States -- with Ebola or anything else.
Does Wilson, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, understand this?
My fear is that Republicans sometimes overgeneralize when talking about the Middle East, but they don't seem to realize it. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), for example, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, recently tried to connect ISIS and the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya. As a factual matter, that didn't make much sense.
Similarly, I remember the time Mitt Romney suggested "Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood" were all roughly part of a joint "jihadist effort," which made even less sense.
Hezbollah and al Qaeda, for example, don't get along at all. Neither do ISIS and Hamas. There is no such thing as a "Generic Middle Eastern Bad Guy" -- the details and nuances matter.
Someone should probably let Joe Wilson know.