You are hereBuzzflash: Rep. King, Extremists Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Buzzflash: Rep. King, Extremists Come in All Shapes and Sizes


March 10, 2011- It captures the imagination of fear-enraptured segments of our society when images of Muslim fanatics are paraded across TV screens and the Internet. Without dismissing the threat of those who would do this nation harm, it is unworthy of our traditional commitment to reliable evidence and adherence to the rule of law when we react hysterically to extremists of a particular ethnicity or religion. No hyperbolic excuses and examples of offenders can make such an approach acceptable.

When this country interned Americans of Japanese descent during the Second World War there was no great outcry. Only with the passage of time did we begin to re-examine our behavior and ask "did we really do that?" Unfortunately we really did. Were there radical elements in the groups we rounded up? Perhaps, but it was a dark chapter in our history when whole families were removed from their homes and sent to camps with little or no access to legal apparatus of any sort. Whatever danger was alleged it has never been able to mitigate the shame that dishonored our heritage.

Peter King's investigation that is being called "the radicalization of Muslim Americans" threatens to lead down the same tortured path we traveled during World War II. And it sidesteps the violence in the ranks of our own natural-born citizens. What causes all forms of radical behavior might be a worthy subject for investigation and direct more balanced congressional oversight. Some politicians have attempted to paint an Al Qaeda face on white, home-grown terrorist Timothy McVeigh who bombed the federal building in Oklahoma - - an example of how far zealots are prepared to take their warped vision.

Obviously Al Qaeda represents a special kind of threat and one that must be properly understood and investigated, but there's something bizarre about the refusal of King and other political leaders to confront the hate groups that gather on our lawns and doorsteps. In a recent letter to supporters Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, warned that "...more than 1,000 hate groups - - a record number - - are now operating in our country. Armed, anti-government militias mushroomed for the second year in a row."

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