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?
As a member of a religious minority, I understand the peril in being labeled as the dangerous “other”. Too far outside the accepted mainstream to fully enjoy the rights and protections of “normal” citizens. At this moment there are Pagans in the “broom” closet because they know their children will be taken away should they speak publicly about their beliefs. There are Pagans in American prisons being denied basic access to religious counsel or materials. For too long even Pagan soldiers were denied the dignity of an emblem on their gravestones. Things are far better now for my family of faiths than 10, 20, or 30 years ago, but I’m old enough to remember the moral “satanic” panics of the 1980s, and how easy it would be for things to slip down that road again should some instigating incident turn public opinion against us. When I see hearings so transparently showy, so obviously about garnering political favor and throwing red meat to their voting base, my first thought is always: who’s next.
I hope you’ll head over to the site and read my full response, and the other panelist responses, and share your thoughts. Also, since I didn’t post about it here, do check out my response from last week dealing with abortion.