The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today denounced House Homeland Security Chair Representative Peter King’s (R-NY) second in a series of hearings this morning about Islamic radicalization in the United States. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:
“Representative Peter King’s continued hearings regarding ‘radicalization of the Muslim-American community’ are utterly unnecessary and nothing more than a ruse to distract Americans from the Republican Party’s broken promises on the economy. Taken together with examples such as Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s and Herman Cain’s deeply disturbing comments in Monday night’s debate, these hearings are a manifestation of an upsetting GOP obsession with American Muslims,” Harris said. “The hearing today, titled ‘The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons,’ is far removed from the reality of any genuine security threats facing our country. To be sure, there are many very real threats facing our country—but this isn’t one of them. It is hard to see any justification for the hearing beyond distracting the American public; as Ranking Member and former committee chair Representative Bennie Thompson said referencing past hearings, ‘The U.S. prison system has not become a hotbed for radicalization and terrorist activity—nor is it likely to become one,’ Indeed the main purpose of this hearing can only be to use the American Muslim community as a straw man to draw the focus away from the GOP’s broken pledge to make job creation their number one priority.”
Congress should certainly be concerned with protecting Americans, but other dangers from American prisons are far more troubling than the spread of radical Islam among convicts. Radical extremist groups already present in U.S. prisons, such as the virulently anti-Semitic Aryan Brotherhood, are equal or greater threats to American lives, including American Jews, than homegrown terrorism [The Washington Post, June 14, 2011]. The Hill reported today that “Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told The Hill it would be good for the committee, which he presided over for the last two Congresses, to get a briefing on the matter from experts and government officials, but that it doesn’t warrant a hearing.” [The Hill, June 15, 2011]
Once again, King has singled out the adherents of the Muslim faith, calling into question the loyalty of an entire community. All Americans who treasure the freedom of religion should be concerned with the growing suspicion of Muslim Americans by the Republican Party, which seems to be a requirement among its 2012 contenders.
King is not alone in questioning the loyalty of American Muslims. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and businessman Herman Cain’s statements during Monday night’s Republican presidential primary debate reflect the rise of dangerous Republican fear mongering. Both Cain and Gingrich supported the use of McCarthy-style loyalty oaths in hiring their staff - a profoundly offensive practice that promotes fear and hate. [ABC News, June 14, 2011]
The Republican Party’s repeated fear-inciting attacks on the American Islamic community are the latest indication that the Republican Party simply cannot be trusted to uphold and promote religious tolerance in America.