Is the ‘New Congresswoman from Michigan’ Describing ‘What the Enemies of America’ Plan to Do?
On May 26 2019, rock musician turned conservative commentator Ted Nugent shared the following video and caption to his Facebook page:
Listen very closely to the new congresswoman from Michigan what the enemies of America believe especially on Memorial Day so we don’t let them continue to destroy the wonderful American system of individual freedom that so many died for. Dear God in heaven!
Nugent described the speaker in the video as “the new congresswoman from Michigan,” presumably meaning Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan). His claim was at odds with the dated appearance of the C-SPAN chyron visible at the bottom of the video, as well as the visible video date stamp: August 7, 1989.
In the video, the speaker said in part:
While our objective — our final objective — is not just to become part of the system that we experience now and that we see, our final objective is to create our own Islamic systems … and not only create Islamic systems for Muslims but to look at all the other people who are sharing this country with us, as potential Muslims. And if we look at them as potential Muslims, and if we feel that we have the obligation which Allah has told us, to try and bring them into the same style of thinking and the same way of behaving and the same objectives that we have — then we need to have some way to communicating with them, and some way we can work with them. And in that long range process of making America Muslim, all of America Muslim, we have to have some actual short range goals.
Tlaib, who was born in 1974, would have been around 13 years old at the time the clip was filmed and aired, and thus not permitted to represent any region.
On the basis of those immediately visible elements alone, it was clear that Nugent was either misrepresenting the video or was unaware he shared disinformation. However, the fact that he was pushing an immediately debunkable falsehood did not deter followers of Nugent’s page from sharing the video and his commentary.
An iteration of the video with the speaker’s identity labeled properly was uploaded to YouTube in March 2018:
C-SPAN also hosted a user-generated version of the same footage, clipped from their archives in June 2018. Sharifa Alkhateeb was not from Michigan, and was not an elected official:
Sharifa has been an advocate for Muslims and more specifically Muslim women nationally and internationally for the last 35 years. She was the creator, co-founder, and president of the North American Council of Muslim Women (NACMW).
As an active and effective grassroots organizer, she was a member of many national and international organizations. She worked tirelessly as an investigative reporter for the English Saudi Gazette, covering children’s and women’s issues, as a speaker and consultant to US federal and state government agencies regarding Islam and intercultural relations, and to further interfaith relations and dialogues. In 1998, she was the creator and director of the Peaceful Families Project — a nationwide survey of domestic violence — funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. She also trained Muslim leaders and Imams in issues of domestic violence within the Muslim community.
Sharifa was also an involved educator. She founded and presided over the Muslim Educational Council, a Mid-Atlantic non-profit organization educating public school staff and administrators about Middle Eastern Culture, Muslims, and Islam. She co-authored the Arab World Notebook used in public school history classrooms nationwide. From 1993-1997 Sharifa produced, wrote, and hosted a monthly television program for Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) called “Middle Eastern Parenting,” and was a diversity trainer for FCPS for five years.
Alkhateeb died in 2004, a full fifteen years before Rashida Tlaib assumed office.
Although the clip shared by Ted Nugent was undoctored, everything else about it was misrepresented, putting it squarely in the category of political disinformation. The video did not show any “congresswoman from Michigan” new or otherwise, as it was footage captured in 1989, and it did not show an elected official.