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In Theory: Rooting out Muslim- American radicals

April 13, 2011

Q. The Congressional hearings into the possible radicalization of Muslims in America has stirred emotions on both sides of the debate, with one Muslim-American representative leaving the room in tears after testifying about an American Muslim killed on 9/11.

The investigations, started by Rep. Pete King (R - NY), are designed to focus on what he believes is a rising domestic terror threat from American Muslims. He also wants to look into what he sees as a distinct lack of cooperation from the U.S. Islamic community.

King's hearings have become the subject of much debate, not only because he has little support from Congressional Repulican leaders, but because he's been accused of being Joe McCarthy for the age of terrorism and of tarring all Muslims with the same brush. He's also been criticised for not investigating other possible domestic terrorists, such as survivalists, radical Christians, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison said of King's plan, “It’s like he’s saying we’re going to deal with drugs, but we’re only going to deal with black drug dealers.”

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King is unrepentant and said, “There is nothing radical or un-American in holding these hearings.” He has support from many within the law enforcement community and cites a Congressional Research Service report showing that authorities have made arrests in 22 alleged homegrown jihad-related terrorism plots since May 2009.

Is King right to hold these hearings? Is there a threat to the U.S. from American Muslims? And should the Islamic community do more to cooperate with law enforcement?

No, in my opinion the American Muslim community is not a threat to national security. To quote my late father — and I'll clean this up a little bit for publication — there's an old saying that the more you stir a bucket of slop, the more it stinks.

Haven't we been through this already? I say, “Enough already!” Let's keep encouraging our national security people to keep up the good work, and if there are jihadists of any stripe, Muslim, Aryan Christian or Jewish Defense League extremists, run ’em in. But to target the whole Muslim population as possible terrorists does seem to me a bit extreme. We shouldn't be surprised at such tactics, however; after Pearl Harbor, anybody who looked Japanese was sent to an internment camp. Fear does that to people; it makes them react irrationally.

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