The King hearings: dangerous for America
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, will begin holding hearings Thursday on "the extent of the radicalization of American Muslims." Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has characterized the hearings as "a witch hunt." Are they?
King also has said he believes the "self-radicalization" of American Muslims represents "a very small minority" of the overall community. What are the potential consequences of singling out one religious group?
Islam is the religion of one billion people in the world. It is simplistic and dangerous to imply that one billion people interpret the Quran the same way or that one billion people agree on what Islam teaches.
Our country has seen the results of these gross over-generalizations: Some people are proposing that steps should be taken to block the construction of mosques. We have state legislators introducing bills to ban sharia - an Islamic code of law - even though no one is seriously proposing that it be imposed. And now we face congressional hearings on Islam that promise to do little more than have a chilling effect on religious practice, foster anti-Muslim sentiment and promote misconceptions about the Muslim community and religion.
We must be wary of anyone who paints with a brush so broad that it portrays one billion people monolithically. We must be wary of anyone who asks us to surrender to fear. Such people are usually after power and control, and they seek to build themselves up while tearing down others. Or they seek a form of religious supremacism - their own. In other words, they hold up the fear of an Islamic theocracy while working to establish a Christian one.
We must also remember that we have been down this road before. During the 1970s, religious right groups screamed that feminists were out to destroy the country. During the 1980s, they raised the specter of a "secular humanist" conspiracy that was out to subvert public education and government. In the 1990s, they went after gay people. After Sept. 11, 2001, Muslims became their enemy of the moment. It seems that some Americans are always ready to surrender to their basest instincts by demonizing another collection of Americans.
I challenge our country to rise above this crude and dangerous form of demagoguery. Yes, it does spark witch hunts -- the very antithesis of what this country stands for. It's time to realize that we don't honor our constitutional values by trashing them.
Posted by: dangeroustalk | March 9, 2011 2:23 PM
Report Offensive Comment