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?
According to a study by the Triangle Center on Terrorism, there have been 120 cases of American Muslims charged with committing or conspiring to commit an act of terrorism since 2001. That’s approximately ten a year. Given the American Muslim population is estimated to be between 2 to 6 million, it should be rampantly evident that radicalization among American Muslims is not widespread at all, despite Rep. King’s declaration that it is a major problem and his hearings on the subject.
Furthermore, the study reports that in over a third of those cases, it was tips from the Muslim community itself that led to the arrests of the conspirators, debunking Rep. King’s contention that the American Muslim community is not cooperating with law enforcement.
I found it quite interesting that the study also showed a large majority of the terrorist activities plotted by American Muslims took place outside the United States — 35 out of 46. In fact, in the past ten years, exactly 11 American Muslims have successfully carried out an attack, killing 33 people. Compared to the 150,000 murders in the United States in the same time frame, it is clear the threat from Muslim American terrorism is quite small.
Even more telling, the Triangle Center also reported that in 2010 American neo-Nazis, Christian militias, and other hate groups were identified as suspects or perpetrators in just as many cases of potential domestic terrorism as American Muslims were. The Southern Poverty Law Center says hate group membership has skyrocketed in recent years, with over 1000 such groups operating in the US. They are responsible for a spree of crimes from the man who flew his plane into the IRS building, to the killing of eight police officers since Obama took office, to the murder of a visitor at the Holocaust Museum, to a plot to murder law enforcement officials with the intent of sparking a general uprising against the government. Yet Mr. King is not holding a hearing on these groups?!
This is nothing less than blind prejudice. It is especially ripe as Mr. King was an outspoken supporter of the IRA during the time that it was actively engaged in terrorism attacks. If he made such statements in support of terrorism today, Mr. King could find himself charged with material support of terrorist groups.
It is a shame that the government’s attention is being frittered away on a criminal problem of minuscule proportion, and which our law enforcement agencies seem to have quite in hand, while unemployment is wreaking havoc on millions of American families, social security still needs to be fixed, and the deficit remains a looming shadow hanging over our economic future.
Even sadder is that millions of Americans will not thoroughly examine how bankrupt the grounds for these hearings are, but will instead have their fear and insecurity increased without just cause. I hope that the impassioned discussions the nation has had over the hearings will help convince many people there is little to fear from the American Muslim community. But I fear that for all too many, bigotry will only increase.