King’s Latest “Radicalization Hearing” Turns Anti-Terrorism into Absurdity

June 15, 2012


There are two weeks until the U.S. House of Representatives goes on recess, and it appears some members of Congress already have a classic case of senioritis. In an attempt to get one last prank in before break, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) announced his fifth hearing in a series on the American Muslim community. Called, “The American Muslim Response to Hearings on Radicalization within Their Community,” King aims to “expand on prior hearings to examine the impact they have had in the Muslim community’s ability to address this issue and on U.S. efforts to counter al-Qaeda and affiliated groups’ radicalizing of Muslims in this country to carry out terrorist attacks on the homeland.” In other words, King is holding a hearing about his other hearings.

If King weren’t so serious and using (read: wasting) taxpayer resources to put on this latest show, we would be laughing. Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury. At a time when the American public needs to be aware of al-Qaeda’s next move after its top leadership has been decimated, King is opting instead to understand why his hearings on one community is getting such low ratings.

Even with King’s prior record of anti-Muslim faith-baiting – such as claiming that 80 to 85 percent of mosques in America are controlled by extremists and that Muslims don’t cooperate with law enforcement – we might be charitable and try to see some sort of merit in King’s myopia.

However, even here King fails to make the grade. The press release announcing the hearing mentions three American Muslims invited as witnesses: Dr. Zuhdi JasserDr. Qanta Ahmed and Asra Nomani. All of the Muslim witnesses King is using to gauge the American Muslim community are individuals who are disconnected from the community and not representative of any mainstream sentiment in the American Muslim community.

The common thread of these three witnesses is that they all support NYPD’s surveillance programs of the American Muslim community. Jasser, President and Founder of American Islamic Forum for Democracy, joined by King at a press conference in New York, thanked the NYPD for spying on the American Muslim community. Ahmed, a physician specializing in sleep disorders, recently spoke out in favor of the NYPD’s spying campaign on American Muslim communities, including students at universities in the northeast region. Ahmed was quoted saying, “unfairly vilifying the NYPD in the way the Associate Press reports have… has been enormously destructive to post-9/11 New York.” That’s an odd thing to say for a person who has no credentials in either law enforcement or credibility with the American Muslim community. And then there is Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, who also commented on the surveillance of Muslim communities saying, “I’m relieved our country’s largest police agency was monitoring our Muslim community as closely as the reports indicate.”

King has shown his mastery of political theater, or utter boredom before summer break; inviting these three witnesses under the guise of experts is truly the ultimate prank. The gall of King to think Jasser, Ahmed and Nomani will be taken seriously as people who have intimate knowledge of law enforcement and American Muslim communities is the epitome of absurd. Rather than investigating actual threats, this hearing is only serving King’s own biases. He has created his own echo chamber to mimic what he wants to hear, not what he needs to hear.

[Contact: Hoda Elshishtawy, Legislative and Policy Analyst, (202) 547-7701,hoda@mpac.org

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