WASHINGTON -- We know Rep. Joe Walsh doesn't give a darn about political correctness; the Tea Party freshman's claim to fame comes from making outrageous statements. His latest came Wednesday, when he accused the U.S. government of ignoring warning signs of a crazed gunman for fear of offending Muslims.
Walsh raised the prospect of another Sept. 11 triggered by Islamic extremists. "It is a real threat," he said. "And it is a threat that is much more at home now than it was right after 9/11. It's here. It's in Elk Grove. It's in Addison. It's in Elgin."
By now, the routine in the battle for the northwest suburban 8th congressional district seat is this: The campaign of Democratic rival Tammy Duckworth sends trackers to every public Walsh event. They videotape everything he says and post it on YouTube. So when Walsh says something controversial -- well, we can hear it for ourselves. A few days ago, he called President Barack Obama "son."
Last month at a town hall meeting in Elk Grove Village, Walsh was videotaped saying that Duckworth -- who lost both legs and partial use of her arm in Iraq when her helicopter was shot down -- talks too much about her military service. That is something "true heroes" don't do, Walsh said.
Walsh on Wednesday was back in Elk Grove at another town hall meeting and the topic turned to Muslims in America.
A man who identified himself as an Egyptian-American complained to Walsh that America was ignoring a danger. "I'm looking for some godly men and women in the Senate, in the Congress, who will stand in the face of the danger of Islam in America without political correctness," the man said.
The man wondered why more people were not paying attention to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). Her most recent contribution to uncivil discourse has been her shameful accusation that Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for many years, is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank said it the best, making a reference to Abedin being married to former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), forced to resign because of suggestive pictures he took of himself.
Wrote Milbank, "If Abedin is in fact a Muslim Brotherhood plant spreading sharia law in the United States, she's using unorthodox methods: posing provocatively for a Vogue spread, then marrying and having the child of a Jewish congressman who sent out a photo of his genitals on Twitter."
"Muslims are taking over America," the man said, "because of our ignorance of Islam."
Walsh did not disagree with any of the bigoted predicates in the man's statements.
"Enough with political correctness!" Walsh said to applause from the audience as he dived into his reply.
"Can you say 'Fort Hood'? Your government was so afraid of doing its job, so afraid of offending Islam, that right in front of our noses, we saw what was happening at Fort Hood, and because your government was politically correct, Americans died," Walsh said.
The reference is to the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, Texas. Awaiting trial for the shootings that left 13 dead and 29 wounded is Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an American-born Muslim. Army prosecutors assert that he is a home-grown terrorist.
Duckworth campaign spokesman Kaitlin Fahey said Walsh's remarks "are not only offensive, they are especially inappropriate and irresponsible from a sitting member of Congress. These comments demonstrate yet again why is he not fit to hold political office."
Walsh did not not back down except for noting in a Thursday statement, "While most Muslims in America and around the world are as peace loving as the rest of us, we would be foolish to ignore the fact that there is a radical minority that simply wants to destroy America and the values that we stand for."
Just a few days ago there was a slaughter at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, near Milwaukee, with the shooter a white supremacist.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee raised the potential that Walsh was provoking extremism with his speech, making him the fire, not the firefighter.
Said the committee: "It is the rhetoric from politicians such as Rep. Walsh that poisons our politics and national discourse. This is exactly the kind of talk and action that can and will encourage extremism and lead to the kind of horror witnessed in Wisconsin."