Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, held the first in a series congressional hearings on, "the extent of radicalization in the American Muslim community and that community's response." King's basic assertion is that, although American Muslims are not all extremists, they are tacitly responsible for the spread of extremist ideologies through their refusal to cooperate with law enforcement.
King claims that law enforcement officials, "told me they received little or - in most cases - no cooperation from Muslims." Yet the only witness from law enforcement invited to testify at the hearing specifically denies this claim. Sheriff Lee Baca, of L.A. County, testified that a recent study found that 40 percent, including 7 of the last 10, al Qaeda terror plots since 9/11 were thwarted with the help of the Muslim community.
Peter King clearly has a distorted notion of what terrorism actually is. He once called for Wikileaks to be declared a terrorist organization because, "by doing that, we will be able to seize their funds and go after anyone who provides them help or contributions," even though Wikileaks has never engaged in violence, and their entire impact has been digital. King was also once an enthusiastic supporter of the Irish Republic Army, considered one of the world's most dangerous terrorist organizations at the time. While the IRA was detonating car bombs King argued that their violence was understandable in the context of their struggle for independence. To me that suggests that King does not consider terrorism a specific crime with a the specific definition. He considers terrorism a legal loophole he can use to circumvent the Fifth Amendment which prohibits the state from depriving a person of property without due process of law, and an acceptable tactic when he happens to agree with the cause.
Terrorism committed by some Muslims is real. It is grotesque. I want to see actual terrorists strung up by their grundles as much as anyone. I agree that identifying the causes of radicalization is crucial to American security and prosperity, but I also believe that the reason they hate us has been known for a long time. The 9/11 Commission Report specifically states that Osama bin Laden was motivated by, "American 'occupation' of Islam's holy places and aggression against Muslims." Ron Paul identified terrorism as what the CIA calls "blowback" in the 2007 Republican primary debates. Every lone wolf jihadist has said over and over again that they attack us because we're over there, wasting American blood and treasure keeping dictators in power.
The Government already knows this. We know they know this because when Federal agents go undercover in the Muslim community they don't stir up terror plots by preaching religious fanaticism. They do it by appealing to outrage over our foreign policy. You can read it in their own affidavits.
So, Peter King's hearings won't accomplish their stated goal. All he is doing is ratcheting up anti-Muslim sentiment in this country by connecting a radical minority to the peaceful mainstream. Mosque vandalism, mosque arson, mosque bombings, stabbings... even violence against the Sikh community has been because they are mistaken for Muslims.
The reality for American Muslims is that when someone is calling to violence in our mosques, odds are it's an agent provocateur from the FBI trying to entrap us. They tap our phones, read our emails, GPS track our cars, and even though they deny it we all know we're being profiled in airport security screenings. That does not foster any great enthusiasm to cooperate with law enforcement.
David Barker is a native of California and writes for the Examiner from San Francisco.