The Ghost of McCarthy
The McCarthy hearings on “unamerican activities” became a foil for ruining the careers and in some cases imprisoning people whom the US government (and J. Edgar Hoover) didn’t agree with- many of the suspected Communists happened to be Jewish intellectuals and leftists so it was a great way to kill two birds with one stone- the hearings played into people’s fears that there were Bolsheviks hiding behind every corner and it played into people’s deeply entrenched anti-Semitism at the time.
Americans have found a new scapegoat and all it will do is distract us from the real problems this country faces, in addition to serving as a great propaganda tool for actual Islamic extremists throughout the world.
Rep. Peter King of NY will be holding hearings this week into the radicalization of the American Muslim community- he has stated that the hearings could take up to a year, which is very convenient given that will take us right up to the 2012 election. Many in law enforcement are concerned that these hearings will alienate those in the Muslim community whom they rely on to provide information about potentially dangerous extremist elements in the Muslim community. Rep. King would like everyone to believe that 80% of Mosque’s are run by extremist Imans, but there is no data to support this.
The level of Islamaphobia in this country has reached a fever pitch, thanks to the Cordoba House controversy, which was seized upon by the likes of the hateful Pamela Geller and other right wing extremists. There is nothing irrational about being afraid of terrorists, but there is something very irrational about fearing all Muslims and assuming they are all terrorists (or terrorism supporters) until they prove otherwise.
The irony of Peter King calling these hearings is rich indeed given he is a long time supporter of the Irish Republican Army– a group most of the world considers a terrorist group until they agreed to demilitarize. I guess whether one is a terrorist depends on a) the color of their skin, b) their religion and c) whether one personally identifies with the group doing the terrorizing. I think we can all see the problem with that- one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter- just ask Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, whose parents were Irgun terrorists but whom she describes as “freedom fighters.”
From Russel Simmons over at HuffPo:
here’s a lot not to like about next week’s Congressional hearings into “Islamic Radicalization,” but one of its most appalling aspects is the naked hypocrisy of the hearing’s chairman, Republican Peter King of New York.
Until now, Rep. King has been best known for his very public support of the Irish Republican Army, which of course was internationally recognized as a terrorist organization. Despite the IRA’s long history of murder, violence and intimidation, King argued (until breaking with the group over it’s failure to support the US invasion of Iraq) that the IRA represented the “the legitimate voice of occupied Ireland.”
…To Rep. King, a Muslim seems to equal terrorist (or at least terrorist sympathizer), no matter what a person’s background, political leanings or actions.
Having witnessed first hand how conversation between Sinn Féin and the British directly led to peace, Rep King more than anyone should know that the best resolutions are always reached through honest dialogue, not demonization and divisiveness.
The deep irony is that Rep. King has begun polluting our national conversation with his hypocritical hate mongering at just the moment that the Arab world’s secular revolution has created a unique opportunity for strengthened cultural ties. Maybe that’s not a coincidence. Politicians like Rep. King make a living playing on people’s fears and misconceptions. It makes their job easier when we view all Muslims as terrorists out for blood, instead of possible partners in a shared future.
Those wacky NY Congressmen!
It’s interesting that the only form of violent extremism Rep. King is concerned with is Muslim in nature- I guess bombing abortion clinics, murdering women’s health providers and violence directed at the federal government doesn’t count? Interesting, that.
Of course, none of this helps Obama and Secretary Clinton reach out to the Muslim world at a critical time. The Arab world is changing- in a very positive way- and what does the GOP do? Focus on the negative and provide a great propaganda opportunity for people like Al Qaeda and Hamas. It could hurt our already damaged reputation in the Muslim world. And then of course, there is the simple fact that such intolerance and overgeneralizing about an entire group of people is just un-American.
I think we can weed out potentially violent extremists in our midst without putting an entire religion on trial.