Welcome to Kalamna, the student blog of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reactions to the Peter T. King Hearing on Radicalization in the American Muslim Community

On Thursday, Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) oversaw a hearing on radicalization among Muslims in the US. Those that testified included the father of the man who opened fire at a military recruiting center in Arkansas in 2009.

Overall, King expressed his satisfaction in a press conference after the hearing, and his supporters agreed that homegrown radicalization is a serious threat ('an elephant in the room') that needs to be addressed.

However, it is unclear whether the hearing was sufficiently productive in addressing the (very real) threat of terrorism.

David A. Fahrenthold and Michelle Boorstein of the Washington post commented that the hearing was dramatic, but lacked substance.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D - Minn.), a Muslim, broke down during the hearing.

Commenting on the theatrics, Fahrenthold and Boorstein wrote:

But, this being Capitol Hill, there also were moments of pure theater and genuine acrimony. A
freshman Republican asked the Los Angeles County sheriff if he had been hoodwinked into
trusting a Muslim advocacy group that some regard with suspicion. And Democrats used much
of the hearing to angrily bash the idea of holding a hearing at all.

Opponents of the hearing, like Professor Liaquat Ali Khan of Washburn University cried Islamophobia/McCarthyism.

Rep.Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), worried about the adverse effects of the hearing:

“I cannot help but wonder how propaganda about this hearing’s focus on the American-Muslim community will be used by those who seek to inspire a new generation of suicide bombers.”

Michelle Boorstein published a piece today in the Washington Post blog about different American Muslim groups, and their reactions to the hearing:

She elaborated:
If King's hearing was about anything, it was about trying to empower a different group of Muslim leaders, people King and other conservatives view as more patriotic, more cooperative and more focused on rooting out terrorists, rather than on Islamophobia.

The difference can be summed up by contrasting part of the mission statement of the Council on American-Islamic Relations - an advocacy group King and other GOP lawmakers bashed repeatedly Thursday - and that of a coalition of groups of which Jasser's is a part.

CAIR says it seeks to "monitor local, national and international media in part, to challenge negative stereotypes, but also to applaud and encourage positive representations of Islam and Muslims." The mission statement of the American Islamic Leadership Coalition is to "come together to defend the U.S. Constitution" and to "protect American security.

On Friday, Corey Kilgannon of the New York Times went to King's home district in Long Island and interviewed the locals.

Commentators have also questioned King's views on the IRA. Researching that subject, I was interested to find that King is a published author; his most recent novel, Vale of Tears (2003) is a work of historical fiction featuring "Sean Cross," a congressman from Long Island. King expressed his concern with domestic terrorism in this novel.

In an interview in 2004, King elaborated:

Future terrorist attacks against New York are a very real possibility. Indeed, the scenario I lay out in Vale of Tears — Al Qaeda joining with local terrorists to attack trains — is exactly what appears to have happened in Madrid. No one can say with certainty why there hasn't been an attack since 9/11 but the likely reasons are (1) Al Qaeda attacks require great coordination and the president's aggressive foreign policy has disrupted al Qaeda; (2) the combination of the Patriot Act, interrogating prisoners at Guantanamo, and more aggressive law enforcement is paying off; and (3) NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has done a truly phenomenal job to protect New York.


Lila said...

isaac... what do you mean by "However, it is unclear whether the hearing was sufficiently productive in addressing the (very real) threat of terrorism."
I think you should elaborate the concept of "terrorism" especially how it is used manipulatively by Western media and governments to undermine a variety of things... organizations, acts of freedom, etc..., that may in fact not be terrorist at all.
You must also talk about the fact that today, terrorism is primarily linked to Muslims, and how this breads fear, and hatred towards American Muslims. and that the fear of terrorism is often used to scare the American population into complying with the government taking unnessesary measures... (iraq war, for example)
My point is that you can't just throw around such a loaded term. Please define your terms, and give both sides of the story.

Isaac said...

thanks for commenting, I will address this in one of my next posts.