It’s hard to imagine the chair of a major congressional committee holding a hearing about the radicalization of the Irish, Jews, Catholics, or African Americans. Yet, this morning, Rep. Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, will do just that.
King bills his hearing as an investigation of The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s response. That pretty much sums up all we need to know about what King intends to do today. This is not an examination of a serious issue, but a thinly veiled attempt to further demonize Muslims in America. King could have just as easily called his hearing, “Turn on C-Span and Listen to The Extent to Which American Muslims Are Disloyal, Dangerous, and Want to Destroy America.”
Chairman King hardly approaches this issue with clean hands.
- He has said that 80% to 85% of American mosques are run by extremists — jihadists — and he once told a reporter that “unfortunately, we have too many mosques in this country.”
- He says, without any evidence to back it up, that Al Qaeda is aggressively recruiting Muslims in this country.
- Last month, he was the first guest on a cable television show hosted by Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of the aggressively anti-Muslim ACT! for America group and one of the more obnoxious Muslim-bashers around (the New York Times reported Monday that she claims radical Muslims have “infiltrated” the CIA, FBI, Pentagon and more).
- He claims that the vast majority of American Muslims and their leaders have refused to cooperate with law enforcement investigations of jihadists — but then says he can’t reveal his law enforcement sources.
Today, nearly a decade since the September 11 attacks, America is crying out for thoughtful leadership on security and immigration issues. The politics of fear has gotten us nowhere. It’s time for someone to stand up and say “Enough!” Rather spend tax payers’ time and money on hearings which, frankly, will do little more than sow the seeds of hatred, Chairman King ought to seize the public spotlight to show statesmanship. He should use his gavel to bring Americans together, not split them asunder. He’d be doing America a greater service by investigating ways in which the government could engage all Americans in protection of the homeland, including Muslim Americans.
While the post-9/11 concern for homeland security is justified, the targeting of Muslim Americans is not. Fear and racial profiling has not made our country safer, just less true to American ideals.