You are hereTruthout: The Hooey King

Truthout: The Hooey King


-Op-Ed by Eugene Ropinson

March 11, 2011- "There is nothing radical or un-American in holding these hearings," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., claimed Thursday, as he launched his McCarthyite probe of American Muslims. He could not have been more wrong. If King is looking for threats to our freedoms and values, a mirror would be the place to start.

Here's why. Imagine a young man, a Muslim, who changes in troubling ways. His two best friends become concerned, then alarmed, as the young man abandons Western dress, displays a newfound religiosity and begins to echo jihadist rhetoric about the decadence of American society. Both friends suspect that the young man has become radicalized and might even attempt some kind of terrorist attack.

One friend is Muslim, the other Christian. Does the Muslim friend have a greater responsibility than the Christian to contact the authorities? By the logic of King's witch hunt, he does.

The Homeland Security Committee hearings that King has convened are billed as an inquiry into "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community's Response." In other words, King suspects that the Muslim community is somehow complicit. Individuals of one faith are implicated; individuals of another faith are not.

As Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., one of two Muslims in Congress, said in his moving testimony, King's premise assigns "collective blame" to American Muslims. "Demanding a community response ... asserts that the entire community bears responsibility," Ellison said.

In his pugnacious opening statement, King noted that his plan to hold these hearings had been criticized by "special interest groups and the media," which he said had gone into "paroxysms of rage and hysteria" at the prospect. "To back down would be a craven surrender to political correctness," he said. In case someone missed the point, King later said it was our duty to "put aside political correctness and define who our enemy truly is."

King asserted that "this committee cannot live in denial." He then went straight there -- into denial -- by paying no heed to the witness best situated to answer the committee's question.

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