If the saying is indeed true that history repeats itself, then the mid-century wave of McCarthyism seems to be adhering to that principle quite nicely in the form of today’s congressional hearings on American Muslims spearheaded by U.S. congressman Peter King.
Peter King, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is carrying out one of his promises he made before he took on the chairmanship of the committee; essentially, he is executing a thinly veiled attempt at a witch hunt on Muslim Americans based on his fear of significant radicalization among this demographic.
According to King, Muslim Americans are hesitant to cooperate with law enforcement agencies working to prevent terrorist attacks. Frequently alluding to his experience as a resident of New York State (he represents the 3rd congressional district of New York, which encompasses a portion of Long Island) who witnessed the tragedy of September 11, King says he lost faith in the Muslim American community after he failed to see an adequate response from the Islamic constituency in his district after the attacks.
For his evidence, King relies on stories of allegedly widespread and systematic unwillingness on behalf of Muslim Americans to assist police officers and federal law enforcement; that is, he prefers hearsay over solid testimony and academic research: “privately, I am told time and again that they [law enforcement in New York and around the United States] are not getting the cooperation they need,” he said in one CNN report. He continues, “there has been… virtually no real cooperation coming from the Muslim-American community.”
While CNN cites studies by the University of North Carolina and Duke University detailing the major role of American Muslims in exposing suspected terrorists (48 suspects turned over to authorities out of 120 since 9/11), as well as the testimony of Los Angeles Sheriff Roy LeBaca, who defended American Muslims in his own community at the hearing, King holds fast to his anecdotes: “The police commissioner’s office in (Suffolk County) has said that they have not gotten one tip from the Muslim-American community” he said in the same CNN report.
Despite no shortage of Islamic conspiracies which King insists originate from sheriffs’ offices around the nation, he has not invited any of these officials to his hearings.
This display of incompetence would only be too funny if it weren’t actually taking place on Capitol Hill. After these sets of hearing have concluded, Mr. King won’t leave bad enough alone; afterwards, he wants to have a hearing on Islamic radicalization in American prisons.
Hopefully, as these hearings wear on, Americans will come to the same conclusion they made fifty years ago as Mr. McCarthy waged his senseless crackdown against the communist “menace”: that Mr. King’s little witch hunt is nothing but the political crusade of an overzealous elected official.
Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy
Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta
Opinion Editor: Vicente Patino