Jacob Heilbrunn

Rep. Peter King's Dangerous Muslim Hearings

 Is Al Qaeda on the ropes? Do the revolts in the Arab world mean that it has essentially been marginalized? That's the question raised by the New York Times. Paul Pillar is quoted as saying that "so far" the scorecard looks very bad for the organization.

He's right. Which is why it's even odder that Rep. Peter King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is planning hearings on March 9 to investigate the domestic Muslim threat. It looks as though his hearing would actually increase the threat by demonizing Muslims--at the very moment that the Arab world is embracing, or trying to embrace, democracy.

You know that something is wrong when Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, is cited by the Washington Post as declaring,

 

"The U.S. government should investigate domestic Islamist radicalization,"Daniel Pipes, the Middle East Forum director who has written extensively on the threat posed by radical Islamists, said in an e-mail. "Unfortunately, Rep. Peter King has proven himself unsuited for this important task, as shown by the gratuitous controversy he has generated over the mere selection of witnesses."

 

It seems that King has put together a panel whose only non-lawmaker is a controversial medical doctor named Zuhdi Jasser. Jasser has a history of making strident statements about his own faith. Critics worry that he'll be the star of the show. Then there's King himself: he apparently believes that 85 percent of American mosques are run by "radicals" who constitute "an enemy amongst us."

If King's aim is to attract publicity for himself, he's doing a good job. But he isn't combatting the radicalization of Muslims--which, by the way, doesn't seem to be going very well, at least in America. Or does King plan to investigate President Obama's supposed Muslim roots as well? Why rest content with the small fry?

To my eye, these hearings look like a fishing expedition on a par with the noxious statements made by Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy about Suhail Khan, a member of the board the American Conservative Union. There is a bizarre compulsion on a part of the right to act as though Muslim traitors are ubiquitous, subverting American liberties every chance they can get.

The hearings should never take place, but if they do, the real promoter of anti-Americanism at home and abroad will be Rep. King.