A girl shows her palm to display the message, â€œPeace!â€ at the â€œToday, I Am A Muslim, Tooâ€ rally in New York City, March 6, 2011. The rally was held in response to the upcoming Congressional hearings led by Peter King (R-LI) to protest the targeting of American Muslims and Arabs.
Rep. Peter King (R-3rd-NY) is holding hearings in Washington on â€œradicalization in the Muslim community,â€ however these hearings appear to be less about the radicalization of the Muslim community and more about energizing the Tea Party community as a warm up to a 2012 Senate race. King has been languishing in the House since 1993 and perhaps he wants a rest from the constant political battles every two years–in exchange for a six year senate term.
In any event many Muslims are worried at what they perceive to be an assault on their right to be, in one of the most important forums in the country–namely the United States House of Representatives. In the current political climate with Tea Party members holding congressional seats, Muslims can be excused for thinking that the anti-Muslim community is extraordinarily energized and radicalized, poised to strike, and poised to question our right to live peacefully and without interference.
These hearings have scared and offended the Muslim community, and sympathetic organizations joined together with Muslim organizations to arrange an event in New York City to protest the hearings. More than 100 interfaith, nonprofit and governmental organizations joined in plans to rally in New York March 6, 2011. Several hundred protesters joined the rally, which had several prominent speakers, including hip hop mogul Russell Simmons and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the Ground Zero Mosque. Fitting that he should speak since he also helped to energize the anti-Muslim community last year.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-5th-MN) said of the hearings that while it is fair to investigate radicalization, it is unfair to single out a religious minority.
Rep. Andre Carson (D-7th-IN) said â€œto the Peter Kings of the world: We will not take your xenophobic behavior.â€
A White House spokesman, Denis McDonough, on the same day of the New York protest, from Virginia, praised the Muslim community and apologetically referred to the intolerance from Peter King and from Tea Party extremists.
Peter King, in the midst of the tempest he created, remains determined. He used to have good relatiosn with the Muslim community–at the Westbury Islamic Center he spoke frequently and held book signings in their hall, in the 80s.
In fact–and this we should not forget–he helped Muslims by championing the Bosnian and Kosova interventions of the 90s. However the loyalty of Peter King is a shifting thing.
After 9/11 has made many anti-Muslim comments.
And Mr. King seems unashamed of his past association with violent organizations. He championed the IRA for more than 30 years. He traveled to visit with IRA members. He said â€œwe pledge ourselves to support those… [who] struggle… in… Belfast and Derry.â€ He said â€œlet us never forget the men and women who are suffering, and, most of all, the men and women who are fighting.â€
And Mr. King, regarding the 30 years of violence during which the IRA killed over 1700 people, including over 600 civilians, King said, â€œâ€If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the IRA for it.â€
It is strange that Mr. King perceives an uptick in terrorist ideology in this country from outside the Muslim community. From within the Muslim community there seems to have been a decrease in militant ideology, but an increase in the proximity of the 2012 election cycle.