Rep. King and Radical Islam

In Issues and Debate on March 9, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Coming to you live on C-SPAN3 this Thursday, Representative Peter King of New York is planning hearings on the “extent of radicalization of American Muslims.” Rep. King and Rep. Cantor have in recent days, defended the need for such hearings that many civil liberties groups are referring to as a witch hunt. Citing the Fort Hood incident of 2009 and the New York City bomb plot of 2010, the Republican Congressmen and their supporters argue the need for such hearings “to try and assess how we can better work with the Muslim community in America to stop the spread of radical Islam.” Considering the nature of these hearings the truth of such a statement will depend upon how these hearings are conducted and what policy ultimately evolves from them.

It is doubtful that these hearings could become another Red Scare a’la Joe McCarthy, though such hearings will surely feed a bias against American Muslims and fuel an already prescient fear. Rep. King appears to have to failed to appreciate other options in the interest of fostering positive relations with the American Muslim community. With that understood, Rep. King and his Republican cohorts do have more self-serving reasons to pursue such a course, as these hearings will undoubtedly give them a greater profile in the media, regardless of negative connotations, and serve to satisfy and ingratiate a vocal portion of the conservative base. They seek the debate more than the policy as the nation begins to roll into the 2012 election cycle.

With raised eyebrows, the spectre of scandals among organized religion should weigh greater upon elected officials as well as the malcontent of the mentally unhinged toward our government and populus alike. It is disingenuous to suggest that the radicalization of American Muslims is the only specific group by which the people of the United States should be concerned. This remains especially true as Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords remains in Texas under-going rehab from a gun-shot wound provided by a disaffected young man of caucasian origin. Unsurprisingly, we have yet to see the GOP majority conduct any meaningful investigation into severe mental illness and its deleterious affect upon the American public. Little investigation has been saught concerning the ongoing problem of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church as well. All of this while one of their own remains in a bed from an assassination attempt that was as far removed from Radical Islam as one could get.

Despite the fear of homegrown terrorism, the U.S. Congress has failed to investigate past and current indiscretions by both the U.S. Government as well as U.S. originated corporations sponsoring terrorist organizations abroad. For its part, the U.S. Government has saught to embolden both dictators and rebellious groups worldwide in the interest of furthering American foreign policy and hegemonic control. Today it is the deteriorating situation in Libya, but we have also found ourselves in bed with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden himself less than 30 years ago. With respect to U.S. corporations, U.S. trade sanctions have less meaning now than ever before. Numerous U.S. corporations as well as corporations from Western Europe, including complicit behavior by European governments, operate in Iran where state-sponsorship of terrorism is the norm. Many operate with U.S. contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan such as Blackwater (now called Xe) and Haliburton with extra-lagal status and little to no oversight from the U.S. Congress. Concerning the allegations of rape, theft, and murder by these corporations, one would think that greater congressional hearings are in order. As with Rep. King’s hearings beginning tomorrow, congressional hearings concerning the use of military contractors was simply a smoke-screen. An attempt to convince opponents that action was being taken when little had in fact been done.

Further concern arises from a standpoint of one who has been struck by the economic downturn as have millions of Americans. Such hearings belie a focus on the economic issues of the day that play a far more predominate role in the everyday lives of the American public than any other single issue. The GOP ran on a platform of fiscal discipline with a focus on jobs and the economy and yet everywhere we turn, we find a social agenda being pushed between the lines. From Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s attack on collective bargaining rights, to Speaker Boehner’s obfuscation concerning abortion funding and Planned Parenthood, gun laws, gay-marriage, English as a national language, and the so-called anchor baby debate, we see that the GOP majority has little concern for what the American public truly elected them for. The ‘shellacking’ of November 2010 was not a signal to push a radical social agenda, but a signal that the nation needs jobs and a stable economy. If Speaker Boehner and his GOP allies are correct concerning public support for their social agenda, one would be compelled to ask them why that same public voted President Obama into office just two years earlier? The GOP is playing a game that will ultimately splinter the party as the Tea-Party movement has already begun to do. The argument that America is a center-right nation may contain some truth, but the moderates that swung the 2010 election will not remain with the GOP as the 2012 election cycle looms. Without a coherent message and platform on jobs and economic growth and a continued focus on slash and burn budget proposals, the GOP has failed to counter Obama’s budget policy and have only succeeded in alienating more of the electorate.

Representative King may indeed pursue a more positive relationship with American Muslims, but along with his Republican colleagues he has lost focus on what truly matters. America is watching.


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