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The New McCarthyism

Islamic terrorists should indeed be ferreted out wherever they are. But King’s hearings and other Republican and right wing theatrics and political grandstanding serve only to inflame bigotry while doing nothing to address the genuinely serious problem of homegrown terrorism.

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New York Republican Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, in early March held the first in a series of hearings on the “widespread radicalization” of Muslim Americans. Like Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who made exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims of widespread Communist infiltration and subversion of the U.S. government in the 1950s, Rep. King has alleged, without a scintilla of evidence, that “80-85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists…. This is an enemy living among us.”

The crass political and calculatingly provocative character of his hearings is reflected in its title, “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.” King is fanning the flames of right wing bigotry that has targeted Muslims since 9/11, because it is politically expedient. There is understandable, even legitimate, public apprehension that radical Islamic zealots worldwide threaten the United States and that they may have some sympathizers in the country.

Islamic terrorists should indeed be ferreted out wherever they are. But King’s hearings and other Republican and right wing theatrics and political grandstanding serve only to inflame bigotry while doing nothing to address the genuinely serious problem of homegrown terrorism.

 

Nearly one dozen state legislatures, in Tennessee, Arizona, Indiana, Texas and elsewhere, are seeking to ban the use of Sharia law in their courts. Recently, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative amending its state constitution to bar its courts from “considering or using Sharia Law.” State Rep Rex Duncan, chief sponsor of the amendment, denounced Sharia as a spreading “cancer,” arguing that the ban “will constitute a preemptive strike against Sharia law coming to Oklahoma …. while Oklahoma is still able to defend itself against this sort of hideous invasion.”

Really? Oklahoma, which has fewer than 15,000 Muslims (under 0.5 percent), and where the law has never been invoked in any court, is facing imminent danger of being overrun by Sharia?

Legislators in Oklahoma, which is home to the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in the United States prior to 9/11, in which Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck bomb outside a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 killing 168 people and maiming 450, surely know better. McVeigh was not a Muslim. He was a militia movement sympathizer, a Republican, a member of the National Rifle Association and was raised Roman Catholic. McVeigh’s dastardly actions impugn the character of those groups no more than those of individual Islamic terrorists should reflect on American Muslims as a community.

Rep. King might want to target widely known radical hate groups and extremists with a known history of violence. He could start with the scores of hate groups, ranging from white nationalists, black separatists, racist skinheads, neo-Confederates, etc., that the Southern Policy Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Ala., has been tracking on its website for decades. Indeed, as far as religious extremist groups go, the SPLC lists 26 currently active Christian Identity hate groups and 17 active Radical Traditionalist Catholic ones in the United States. Just because there are at least 43 known Christian hate groups, America does not have a problem of “widespread radicalization” of Christian Americans.

Even Rep. King, a known U.S. sympathizer of the Irish Republican Army while it was labeled a terrorist organization by the British government knows that. But, only because he happens to be Roman Catholic.

 

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Frank Griffin May 9, 2011 at 12:06 PM
Funny you bring up McCarthy. It turned out years later that many of the people he accused, that he had little evidence on turned out to actually be bad apples. Nipping the Muslim problem before it gets started is a good thing. We can see what has happened in the UK. They are allowing Sharia to be used sometimes, so saying that it is not a possible issue is just putting your head in the sand.
Many muslims that would never blow anything up themselves actually think killing innocent people in the name of islam is actually ok by others. I forgot what the percentage is but it was a very significant percentage of the muslim population. Attitudes like this are coming from somwhere and the logical place is the mosque.
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Commentary | Magazine | April 2011

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