Creating Enmity With Words
No, this is not about the shootings in Tucson — at least, not in any direct sense. This is about Rep. Peter King (R-NY) accusing Muslim-Americans (all Muslim-Americans) of being uncooperative with anti-terrorism efforts, of being disloyal Americans and, in fact, of not being real Americans at all when it comes to defending the United States:
Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the new chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, has promised to launch a series of investigations of Muslim Americans beginning in February. “I’ve made it clear that I’ll focus the committee on counterterrorism and hold hearings on a wide range of issues, including radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism,” he told Newsday. King has repeatedly said that he only wants to single out “Islamic terrorism” in his hearings on domestic security, and has even claimed that there are “too many mosques in this country.” Joining anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney on Gaffney’s radio program last week, King doubled down on his promise to launch a witch-hunt against Muslims. He repeated a falsehood that he stated earlier — that American Muslims never cooperate to combat terrorism. But in addition to this claim, King made the extraordinary smear that American Muslims aren’t “American” when it comes to war. “[W]hen a war begins,” King said, every ethnic and religious group unites as “Americans.” “But in this case,” King continued, referring to Muslims, “this is not the situation. … Whether it’s cultural tradition, whatever, the fact is the Muslim community does not cooperate anywhere near to the extent that it should[.]”
If Rep. King is concerned about the “radicalization of the American Muslim community,” he should look in a mirror, because rhetoric like this cannot accomplish anything positive. And as Sarah Posner points out at her blog, ReligionDispatches, going on the rabidly Islamophobic Frank Gaffney’s radio show to spew such rhetoric is like putting up a huge billboard advertising his hostility toward Muslims in general:
As I reported last week, Gaffney has disgusted some conservatives with his anti-Muslim bigotry; one Muslim conservative activist, Suhail Khan, told me that is why Gaffney has been excluded from next month’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Yet that doesn’t stop CPAC from including a group like the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which supports Front Page magazine, which has promoted Gaffney’s work, including Gaffney’s smear of Khan.
As King’s willingness to appear on Gaffney’s radio show and affirm his notions that Muslims can’t be real Americans shows, Gaffney is not the pariah some in CPAC might contend he is. By way of another example, as I reported, Gaffney was appointed to the advisory board of the Clarion Fund, whose Islamophobic propaganda films have been promoted by current and former elected officials and the Republican Jewish Coalition, and which plans to screen its latest documentary, Iranium, to lawmakers early next month.
Gaffney has been peddling the bogus claim that shari’ah law represents a real threat to the Constitution, and has called on Congress to “investigate” that as well. He employs someone who believes being Muslim should be criminalized. He brought that dog and pony show to Capitol Hill late last year for the benefit of House staffers, and spoke to a room of about 50 people. It surely is a deeply troubling development that King is cavorting with Gaffney and pontificating about the “Americanism” of American Muslims, in light of Gaffney’s agitation about fifth columns of shari’ah proponents bent on undermining the Constitution.