Thursday, March 10, 2011, saw an electric atmosphere on Capitol Hill. New York Congressman Peter King (R-03), Chairman of the United States House Homeland Security Committee, convened a special hearing titled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response” to explore radical Islam in the United States. Congressman King is the same individual who, in a 2007 interview with Politico.com, declared there were “too many mosques in this country.” The decision to have this hearing has been met with a great amount of opposition and outrage from various communities, organizations, and individuals.
One of the more prominent testimonies was delivered by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. During his remarks, Sheriff Baca cautioned against “singling out a particular section of our nation” while reminding the committee that there were over 70 terror plots formulated by United States-based, non-Muslim individuals and organizations since 9/11. In contrast, there have only been 41 cases discovered to have been conceived by radical domestic and international Muslim organizations combined. Sherrif Baca was nothing short of an attack dog on Thursday, repeatedly standing up for organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whom Rep. King had actually decided to ban from the hearing altogether.
In today’s political world, honest Muslim groups need individuals like Baca to stand up for them in the face of lawmakers from all levels of government who make no pretense about their personal feelings regarding individuals who practice Islam. Take, for example, Villa Park Councilwoman Deborah Pauly who recently made an appearance on this viral video of protesters shouting “Go back home! Go back home!” outside an event put on by the Islamic Circle of North America Relief USA, intended to raise money for homeless shelters and other social programs in the United States.
“I don’t even care if you think I’m crazy any more…I know quite a few Marines who would be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise,” the councilwoman said to laughs from the crowd.
How do we expect Muslim Americans to feel when everywhere they turn there is a fresh accusation or inconvenience based on their race? Congressman King seems to be on a witch-hunt the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the McCarthy communist searches of the 1950s and the internment of Japanese Americans before that. This is just the latest in a string of efforts by American lawmakers that single out Muslims for an embarrassing level of investigation and persecution. In fact, a number of states have actually introduced, and seen success in passing, legislation that goes out of its way to ban Sharia Law within the state’s borders. The necessity and legitimacy of such legislation is being questioned in courts all over the country. Not to mention the perceived ignorance of our politicians could result in further exacerbating an already tense relationship between the United States and most of the Muslim world.
It seems that Congressman King had convened this hearing fully aware of the political circus it would turn into. His aforementioned action of actually banning prominent Muslim organizations from partaking implies that no honest effort had been made to reach out and engage in productive dialogue with the entire community that the hearing would throw a very intense spotlight upon. This was not a good move to make by Rep. King and the Republican majority, and will be looked back on as an ugly incident where the United States House of Representatives targeted Americans based on nothing more than their race, and the personal feelings of one congressman.
Daniel Reilly, Rep. King: There are “too many mosques in this country” , Politico
Leroy “Lee” Baca (transcript), Lee Baca testimony at Peter King’s Muslim hearings , The Washington Post
AFP, Sheriff clashes with US lawmakers over Muslim group , Yahoo
Numerous Organizations Listed in Video Credits, Hate Comes to OC , Youtube
Andy Barr, Oklahoma Bans Sharia Law , Politico
Brian Bennett and Geraldine Baum, Rep. Peter King’s hearing on American Muslims a ‘very personal’ quest , The LA Times