Peter King, a GOP Congressman from New York and Chair of the Homeland Security Committee, will hold hearings this week about The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community’s Response.
I would be in favor of hearings about radicalization in all religions, but to single out one particular religion sounds to me like scapegoating and fearmongering.
King doesn’t have a lot of high ground to stand on in this debate, either. He has previously been vocal in his support of the IRA and Sinn Fein.
Furthermore, I think the majority view among American Christians is that these hearings about radical Islam are a bad idea. Here’s one example from the Baptist part of the spectrum that sums it up nicely:
Walker said the hearing’s narrow focus “will send a further message that Muslims present a greater threat of terrorism than other religions.”
“It would imply that the potential for terrorism from outside of Islam is not significant enough to merit a hearing,” he said. “Highlighting only one potential so-called breeding ground for terrorism ignores the reality that other sources of terrorism exist.”
“We recognize that religion is sometimes the impetus for acts of terrorism,” Walker said. “History is replete with examples of the atrocities that human beings have perpetrated in the name of their particular faith, be it Islam, Christianity or a host of others.”
But Walker said a general equating of terrorism with Islam is “both dangerous and disingenuous.”
“It is a ploy that plays on widespread misunderstanding of Islam, and it encourages the American people to view extremist outliers in Islam as representative of the entire faith,” he said.
He said the hearing would “set a troubling precedent that could lead to a diminution of everyone’s religious liberty.”
I recommend the whole piece above; it’s excellent. Baptists don’t want to be lumped with the nuts from Westboro Baptist Church any more than Muslims want to be lumped with the nuts from al Qaeda. (And somewhat related: the history of Baptists in America includes the essential point by Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury Baptists about the wall of separation between church and state.)
With the deficit and jobs supposedly being the top priorities of the GOP, why are we witnessing a bombastic bigot like Congressman King calling for hearings into radical Islam? It’s because the GOP is out of economic ideas and is up to its old divide-and-conquer, culture war tricks to distract the American public. Some things never change.