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Peter King's Muslim Radicalization Hearings: Plenty of Hysteria to Go Around

We’ve got anti-Muslim accusations. We’ve got anti-American accusations. We’ve got anti-Peter King accusations. We’ve got charges of bigotry, racism and religious intolerance. We’ve got a New York Times magazine writer asserting that “America is a tinderbox of prejudice and fear.”

In short, we’ve got a lot of hysteria.

Tomorrow the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.”

King, the chairman of the committee, sees himself as a force for commonsense holding firm against a dangerous tide of political correctness. He points out that not all American Muslims are radical by any means but that there is an element, the element that views 9/11 as a CIA or Israeli conspiracy, that is ripe for radicalization. Moreover, he doesn’t think that the Muslim community is doing enough to counter these elements. His critics counter that he is singling out a community unfairly, that he invading the privacy and undermining the freedom of individuals of a particular religious faith, and that he is alienating the very community that he wants to be more active in countering radical elements in America. The less discrete of the critics simply denounce King as racist.

In between, mired in all of the emotional muck, is strange logic on all sides. New York University’s Brennan Center for Law and Justice, for example, ascribes simplistic techniques to federal law enforcement for pinpointing radicalization.  Having worked in federal law enforcement, I can say that it is the Brennan Center that is simplistic. Agents aren’t running around shadowing every Muslim who attends a mosque. On the other hand, there is – fact and precedence shows – a certain fundamentalist religious extremism behind the actions of Islamic terrorism. Should we really be surprised by this? Is anybody surprised to hear that there is a certain fundamentalist religious extremism behind the Ku Klux Klan or the Order, which seeks to wage war against ZOG – their term for the U.S. Government: Zionist Occupied Government?

Does this in any way suggest that most Christians are digging trenches in preparation for the coming war? No more than the radical elements of Islamic terrorism, who claim jihad as justification for violence against innocents, represent the vast preponderance of Muslims.

Congressional hearings into the mindset and motivations of domestic terrorists in the United States, no matter what religion is being subverted, seems entirely appropriate. Lumping them all together in the name of political correctness is unhelpful. The culture of neo-Nazis is nothing like that of Islamic radicals. Separate investigations into both – and how American citizens get sucked into them – is also appropriate, and there is no reason to suggest intolerance or bigotry. The growing frequency of individual terrorist attacks associated with Islamic extremism – whether inspired by international terrorist organizations or not – is a clear homeland security threat.

Where Peter King has erred in judgment, though, is in implying – Is he implying? Perhaps asserting outright is the better term – that the whole of the American Muslim community should be indicted for failing to more aggressively counter the extremist elements hiding in the larger community.

I have to tell you: I wouldn’t know how to counter the Order. I don’t know where they are. Somewhere up where the Unabomber used to hang out, I guess. I have an image of that famous painting – Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean all hanging out in the same bar. Somewhere, in some wooded landscape, a bunch of crazy radicals are taking target practice against Jewish law enforcement cut-outs and mapping the corridors of Congress for some apocalyptic confrontation. Presumably. But I don’t hang out with them, and I’d therefore have little influence over them. Why then should we expect most Muslims to be familiar with the habits or whereabouts of Islamic terrorists?

Sure, we can speak out. Let me give it a go: The Ku Klux Klan is repulsive. Well, actually, they are clownish. As a former reporter, I remember covering a Klan rally in some remote outpost in Arkansas, and finding it not a little ironic that offerings at the rally’s concession stand included nachos.

Islamic terrorism is today a serious threat where the Klan is a joke. However, the reason the Klan is a joke is because American society has so alienated such elements that nobody takes the men in white sheets seriously anymore. We take individual threats of violence seriously, including those associated with neo-Nazis; we take racism seriously; we take religious intolerance seriously. And because we do, organizations such as the Order, Aryan Nation, and the Klan are marginalized to the fringes of American society. They are still responsible for hatred, but they must largely maintain their hatred underground.

Muslims have similarly spoken out against terrorists and radicals. But has there been enough outrage? I think this is the real question Peter King is asking. Many are protesting the hearings; it would be good to see more protests against Islamic radicals too.

Chris Battle founded Security Debrief as a forum for the homeland security community to discuss pressing issues and current debates in national security, counter-terrorism and law enforcement. After a long fight against kidney cancer, Chris passed in August 2013. Read More