The Congressional "Islamic Radicalization" Probe: 21st Century McCarthyism
Surreal and disheartening as it surely seems, there is no question that this is as perilous a time as no other since the tumultuous sixties. It undeniably stands in stark contrast to everything we have been repeatedly reminded as being central to the founding principles of this great country and is unquestionably violative of fundamental considerations of fairness and justice.
This week, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman and New York Republican Rep. Peter King initiated a series of congressional hearings that many in our national media have rashly and audaciously portrayed as a “debate over how to combat a spate of home grown terrorism” but which in truth is a witch-hunt of a variety that harkens to a time in our not so distant past when ordinary law-abiding Americans suffered untold humiliation and ignominy over frivolous, trumped-up charges of treason, disloyalty and subversion.
McCarthyism represented a chapter in this country’s sordid political history when thousands of Americans accused of being communists or communist sympathizers were exposed to uncharacteristic scrutiny and inquisitions by overzealous politicians and government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. And in most instances, in reality, the allegations were unfounded, dubious, or fabricated; despite the frenzied interest and all the hoopla, the evidence of wrongdoing was generally tenuous and exaggerated.
As was the case with Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1940s and the 1950s, Peter King is unshakable about the righteousness of his convictions. He believes that he is fighting the good fight and taking action as necessary, despite any appearances of political incorrectness, to save Americans from the scourge of yet another terrorist attack right here on the homeland.
King even cleverly sought to garner some legitimacy or respectability by characterizing his probe as a direct or logical consequence of the Obama administration’s heightened warnings about a new threat that is immediate, palpable, gathering and ominous.
Dismissing critics' charges of heavy and uneven-handedness as baseless, King declared that “there is nothing radical or un-American in holding these hearings." He insisted that doing any less or caving-in to pressure would amount to an abdication of what he considers “the main responsibility of this committee — to protect America from a terrorist attack."
But, try as he must, can King truly dispel what to many seems so obvious or flagrant? This probe reeks with the kind of racist duplicity and religious red-lining that is jarring and abash.
If you truly stop to think of it, before and since 911(which was clearly perpetrated by foreigners at the behest of known international sponsors and financiers), the bulk of what could loosely be qualified as ‘terrorist acts’ in the name of a professed religious faith in this country have been perpetrated by non-Muslims. Some have even been conducted by christian organizations, like the Hutaree Militia in Michigan, actively recruiting, proselytizing and readying members in sequenced military-style communications and reconnaissance training routines for a showdown with the “Antichrist'.”
A manifesto posted on the Michigan militia group’s web site went to great lengths to articulate the following chilling ideological foundation for its charge: "Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment. The only thing on earth to save the testimony and those who follow it, are the members of the testimony, till the return of Christ in the clouds. We, the Hutaree, are prepared to defend all those who belong to Christ and save those who aren't. We will still spread the word, and fight to keep it, up to the time of the great coming."
How is it that in Peter King’s America, it is okay for these white, christian terror groups to operate openly and most-menacingly while he’s busy hounding law-abiding citizens, who just happen to be Muslim, without any identifiable, justifiable cause?
This hearing is unconscionable and must be summarily stopped; it is a yowling and obtrusive affront to justice and fairness.
The sight, this Thursday, of Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, the first American Muslim to serve in the US House of Representatives, as he gave a tearful testimony before King’s committee about Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a Muslim American first-responder paramedic who perished on September 11, 2001 trying to save the lives of other fellow Americans, was sad, chilling and extraordinarily moving at the same time. But did that have to be and what does it say about the type of society we have become?
It is important to posit this probe within the larger context of happenings around the country since the 2010 general elections. If anyone didn’t know before now, elections have consequences. Frustrated by the realities of a tepid economy and what was perceived as the slow pace with which the Obama-led recovery plan was coming to fruition, Americans voted for a Republican/Tea Party coalition that rode into power promising change in the form of tax cuts, limited government and a slew of other social policy ideas seeking to exclude, divide, stupefy and disenfranchise.
Whether considering King’s “Islamic radicalization” witch-hunt, Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to bust unions and brazenly usurp the collective bargaining rights of public employees in Wisconsin so as to indirectly de-fund his Democratic opponents, or a spate of other legislative policy initiatives elsewhere across the country striving to strengthen the hands of corporations and the rich while dis-empowering the middle/under class, this is really a classic case of the chicken coming home to roost! And we are merely two months in!!