Peter King’s brand new version of the HUAC hearings and the glory days of the McCarthy era is set to begin Thursday, when King will hold hearings deciding whether or not American Muslims have been “radicalized.” King told CNN’s State of the Union “We’re talking about the affiliates of Al Qaeda who have been radicalizing, and there’s been self-radicalization going on within the Muslim community, within a very small minority, but it’s there. And that’s where the threat is coming from at this time.”
King justified his witch hunt, titled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response” by citing three terrorist incidents in the U.S. instances involving Muslims – the tragic shooting at Fort Hood in 2009 and two bomb plots in New York. King said “People in this country are being self-radicalized, whether it’s Major Hasan or whether it’s Shahzad or whether it was Zazi in New York. These were all people who were identifying, in one way or another, with Al Qaida or Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.” But while these horrific instances of terrorism are ghastly, they’re certainly not representative of the American Muslim community at large.
King’s no stranger to stoking the fires of fear towards the Muslim community. The Washington Post reports that in 2004 King told Sean Hannity that “no American Muslim leaders are cooperating in the war on terror,” even though a study found that tips thwarting 48 out of 120 cases involving American terrorist plots came from the Muslim community. Furthermore, the study concluded that the number of Muslim-Americans engaged in terrorist acts against America has totaled 28 in the past two years. In addition, the Post reports a Pew Research study found in 2007 that most Muslim Americans are largely “assimilated, happy with their lives and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.”
The Post says King apparently has no plans to bring in experts on terrorism or homeland security or law enforcement officials for his hearing. Instead, he’ll probably lean on legislators and activists who already agree with his point of view. It’s more than sad and likely that King’s hearings will not only stoke fear and reactionary attitudes here in America, but also will exacerbate feelings of persecution of the Muslim community worldwide. Abdul Rauf, the former leader of the plan to build the hotly contested community center at the former WTC site, said at a rally in Times Square over the weekend “My concern is the perception among the youth here that Muslims are under attack … by their own government…This helps radicalize people, and we need to reverse that cycle of radicalization.”
At best, King’s hearings will be the kind of ultra conservative stunt that pundits like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh engage in regularly, where the only people who get riled up will be the same people who get all of their info from hard right conservative media. But what’s troubling is that King’s hearings could legitimize the sentiment that it’s proper policy to investigate and single out an entire community based on the actions of a few rotten extremists that law enforcement should already be equipped to handle. We’ve already seen that kind of behavior before in America and frankly, we should know better.