I deeply don’t understand the timing of New York Congressman Peter King’s hearings on Islamic radicalism in America. He has presented no evidence that this is an urgent problem. He has presented no evidence that the majority of mosques are breeding extremism. There is no independent law enforcement official that has come out and said Islamic radicalism presents an immediate threat.
What is a threat, what is always a threat, is extremism and fanaticism in all its forms. By focusing on just one source of it—Islam—King is singling out one minority group in America for some kind of special suspicion and censure. He could have reframed the hearings to look at all extremists threats, from the crazy white men like Buford Furrow who target Jews and Phillipinos to crazy Islamists like the Ft Hood shooter to the (let’s be fair, very occasional) crazy Jew. (From 1980 through 1985, there were 18 terrorist attacks in the U.S. committed by Jews; 15 of those by members of the Jewish Defense League).
Both Jewish extremism and Christian/Aryan terror have subsided to a great degree in this country. If King were truly interested in solving the “crisis” of Islamic fanatacisim in America, a broader hearing focusing on all forms of terror would have enabled him to understand what it takes to stem the tide.
But that “If” is a big one. Maybe, as CNN’s Dan Gilgoff has pointed out, King is more interested in feeding some kind of anti-Islamic base in some wing of the Republican party. These are the people that went ballistic over the not-mosque at not-Ground Zero. In my years at The Jewish Journal I’ve interviewed many of them, including Brigitte Gabrielle. There is a kind of competition among them to get the most attention for sounding the loudest alarm. They are incentivized for hyperbole. That’s not to say there isn’t Islamist infiltration here, but you need to demand clear evidence for every statement.
If King wants to create fair hearings and not show trials, the most important two words he’ll speak over the next few months are, “Prove it.”