Editorial, New york Times
Published: March 11, 2011
Representative Peter King demeaned the crucial issue of homeland security — and himself — building a Congressional hearing around his foolish, provocative and hurtful claims of widespread radicalization of Muslim Americans.
Domestic Terrorism Hearing Opens With Contrasting Views on Dangers (March 11, 2011) Mr. King, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, offered not a scintilla of substantiation for his charges that more than 80 percent of American mosques are run by radicals — “an enemy living amongst us.” Nor did he offer any evidence to support his assertions that “law enforcement officials throughout the country told me they received little or — in most cases — no cooperation from Muslim leaders and imams.”
Instead the New York Republican offered fresh variations on his sound and fury — first taking care to praise the “vast majority” of Muslim Americans, then impugning their patriotism in archly demanding, “moderate leadership must emerge from the Muslim community.”
He ignored a study indicating that in a hefty 40 percent of domestic extremist plots that were thwarted, law enforcement had help from Muslims. And he completely avoided the more complex and worthy issue of threats to the nation from a wide array of homegrown militants that law enforcement officials must deal with, from neo-Nazis to wannabe jihadists.
Despite his claims of insider law enforcement knowledge, Mr. King didn’t call a single police witness to testify. The Democratic minority did, allowing Sheriff Leroy Baca of Los Angeles to tell of close cooperation from concerned Muslim Americans, who, he said, “are just as independent, just as feisty, just as concerned about safety,” as all other sensible Americans. “They certainly don’t want their homes or their mosques blown up.”
Mr. King had no large established Muslim American organizations testify. He preferred to feature two aggrieved witnesses offering anecdotal tales about radicalized relatives, as if that proved his case.
By the end of hearing, Mr. King was claiming personal courage in defying “political correctness.” There is nothing courageous about pandering or sowing hatred and fear.
The only good news is that Congressman King’s main success was how he punctured his own bloviations. This is small comfort to patriotic Muslim Americans, whom Mr. King unfortunately is promising to further bedevil at more hearings.