Letter to the Editor: March 11, 2011
Rep. Peter King's Hearings Targeting American Muslims
I urge you to tune in and listen to what is being said about American Muslims in our nation's capitol — it is tragic and jarring. Several representatives at the hearing have themselves stood up loudly in strong condemnation of the premise of these hearings.
These hearings attempt to legitimize a premise that is not only baseless and untrue, but also brazenly racist, prejudicial and provocative. The title of the hearings is itself telling: "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community's Response." Obama administration officials have stressed that these hearings are condemnable. The premise must be amended to instead investigate radicalization in earnest rather than as a forgone conclusion that damns an American minority without so much as giving them the opportunity to speak for themselves.
Each of the speakers — with a few exceptions such as Congressman Keith Ellison (a Muslim representative from Minnesota) — is well-known for harboring and fomenting anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim sentiments. Most of the witness testimonies thus far have supported the sorts of abominable and unwarranted claims that Rep. King has made recently, such as: “85 percent of mosques in America are ruled by the extremists ... This is an enemy living amongst us." Notably, countless American Muslims who have requested to testify and specialists who would represent the other side of these claims and provide for real debate on the topic have been declined the right to testify — as Rep. King, who is the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, possesses the authority to decline them that right.
These hearings are political show trials that target a vulnerable minority in the United States and are an ugly blemish on the face of American history that parallel the lead-up to Japanese internment. We cannot stand by as another American minority is profiled, singled out and blamed for a tragic foreign attack. Please join us in protest to acknowledge that this is a critical matter of civil rights and not what Rep. King has characterized as a "Muslim problem." Students will be gathering today at 2 p.m. in Murray-Dodge to sign a petition to change the premise of the hearings.