During the campaign season, we all get exposed to a lot of nonsense: Exaggerations, distortions, unfair claims and outright lies. Both sides do it, and over time we've all become a bit too numb to it all.
However, it's been a long time since I've seen a claim as ridiculous and destructive as David Perdue's claim that his Democratic opponent, Michelle Nunn, funneled money to terrorists in her role as head of the Points of Light Foundation, an organization founded by former President George H.W. Bush.
Take the ad's very first sentence: "Michelle Nunn's own plan says she funded organizations linked to terrorists." The plan says no such thing (see page 56). It merely predicts -- accurately, as it turns out -- that Republicans may attempt to attack her using that false charge.
If Nunn and Points of Light had in any way funded a terrorist group, as the Perdue campaign claims, the charitable organization would have been shut down and its officers imprisoned in a federal penitentiary somewhere. Providing financial support to terrorism is felony under federal law, and prosecutors have not exactly been shy about enforcing that provision aggressively at every opportunity.
In addition, Points of Light made no contributions to Islamic Relief USA, the group supposedly in question. PoL merely included Islamic Relief USA on a list of thousands of charities to which eBay users might donate proceeds of their sales.
OK, but Islamic Relief USA could still be a terrorist group, right?
No. To the contrary, Islamic Relief USA is also listed among the thousands of groups to which federal employees can contribute through automatic deductions in their paycheck, along with Human Life International ("... training, organizing, equipping pro-life leaders in more than 100 countries around the world") and Heroes on the Water (" ... helps warriors unwind, rehabilitate and reconnect with their family and community through kayak fishing"). (See Page 59 of this document).
If Points of LIfe funds terrorism, then by the same distorted logic the U.S. government also funds terrorism.
Neil Bush, chair of Points of LIght and son of the 41st president, put it aptly in an interview with the AJC's Political Insider blog yesterday:
"That's ridiculous. It really makes my blood boil to think that someone would make that kind of an allegation, whether it's an independent political group or a candidate for office."
Again, we've all grown too accustomed to dirty politics, and both sides indulge in it. But given our nation's recent history and the threat posed by terror, this particular allegation borders on a charge of treason, not just against Nunn but against a non-partisan organization with a proud record of service. It also gives unintentional credence to the basic thrust of Nunn's campaign against the stridently partisan, win-at-any-cost mentality that has afflicted our national discussion.
Frankly, the charge is also insulting to Georgia voters, treating them as extremely dumb and easily manipulated. We're better than that, and those seeking to represent us ought to recognize that fact.