On Faith: King’s Muslim Hearings

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 8, 2011 — 109 Comments

My latest response at the Washington Post’s On Faith site is now up.

Here’s this week’s panel question:

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?

Here’s an excerpt from my response:

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.

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  • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com highway_hermit

    Thank-you, Jason, for another voice of reason in the madness.

  • Grace Mary Perez

    Thank you for speaking out. Please continue to do so as will I.
    Grace Mary

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

    In his piece, Jason claims "These planned political show hearings, which will no doubt be replete with grandstanding by various politicians, are almost guaranteed to ratchet up the fear while doing little to constructively address actual problems among American Muslim communities."

    That is grandstanding. Where is one shred of evidence that these are, or rather, will be, "show hearings replete with grandstanding"? Other than, you know, the fact that Peter King is (a) a Republican, and (b) dares to suggest that it would be a good idea to know more about Islamic terrorists here in the US?

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I'm going with (a). I'd be opposed to such hearings even if conducted by Democats but, my Goddess, have we learned nothing about Republicans?

      • chuck_cosimano

        What we have learned is that Republicans have found a way to win elections and in Washington that is the only thing that matters.

    • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com highway_hermit

      I'd like to see the response if somebody held hearings to discuss "the radicalization of American Christians." Perhaps they can call as evidence the actions of groups such as the Hutaree, or providers of social networks for these groups such as ChristianMilitia.net, or other groups listed by the Anti-Defamation League such as the Kentucky State Militia, Ohio Unorganized Militia Assistance and Advisory Committee, Southeastern Ohio Defense Force, Michigan Militia (two factions using the same name), Southern Indiana Regional Militia, and the Southern California High Desert Militia. These hearings could include an examination of the Ku Klux Klan (in all its "glorious" variations), Christian Identity groups, League of the South, the World Church of the Creator, and even the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

      Forget about the Muslims, we've got enough trouble dealing with the Christians.

      • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        Yes, by all means, forget the Muslims. After all, a tiny little monotheistic sect never brought down the dominant religion of a powerful nation and forcibly converted everyone to it's ways…

        Oh, wait…that's how the Christians started out.

      • caraschulz

        They have had hearing on these types of groups. And no one had much of a freak out about it.

        • Bookhousegal

          That's why those groups (and their conservative sympathizers and propagandists) are a lot more of a threat than the people the Christian radicals *want* people to fear. Even if people *did* convert from Christianity to Islam en masse, it'd be the *same people* (for better or worse) ….and if they propose the 'solution' is to enforce more conservative Christianity in government, which they generally do, you'd just have to wonder if it really mattered which brand of theocracy oppresses us.

          Cause history shows it's not a matter of 'which brand,' but rather how much power and control those types of religions get.

    • Jason Pitzl-Waters

      Why will these be "show hearing"? The fact that King's called witnesses do not include anyone with a background in terrorism, law enforcement, or homeland security. Of the witnesses that he picked, two are anecdotal testimony, family members of "radicalized" American Muslims, and one is a Glenn Beck favorite. Or how about the fact that law enforcement personal, academic studies, and government sources all agree that American Muslim communities have been cooperative with anti-terror/anti-plot initiatives, yet King keeps mentioning secret anecdotal sources about how Muslims aren't being cooperative. If it weren't for Democratic invites on the issue, who seem to be the ones actually taking this seriously, the hearings would be a true farce.

      • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

        Jason, did you notice that the witnesses that you so object to are all American Muslims? And what you dismiss as "anecdotal testimony" are in fact first hand reports from people who have direct personal knowledge of the subject of the hearings. This is standard fare for Congressional hearings, as anyone with any familiarity at all with these kinds of things knows very well. If you are having hearings on universal health care, you bring in people with personal stories to tell about what its like to not have health insurance, or to have your insurance canceled while in the middle of chemotherapy, etc. In other words, you have proven nothing, other than the ordinariness of these hearings.

        And this is just the witness list for a single day. I predict the hearings will last more than one day and that there will be more witnesses. I'm not going to bet $1000 on it or anything, though.

        And as far as being "a Glenn Beck favorite", tut, tut, Jason. That is guilt by association.

        • Jason Pitzl-Waters

          As you know, anecdote + anecdote =/= fact. Which is why balanced and fair hearings also see testimony from experts in the respective fields and academics who have studied the issue at hand. There are currently zero academics being called despite this issue having been studied quite a bit. As for Zuhdi Jasser, he is notorious for providing cover to folks like Glenn Back and Bill O'Reilly. He also has zero background in the fields of terrorism, law enforcement, or homeland security. He is/was a doctor, and his only expertise comes from being a Muslim, and also holding a viewpoint that certain politicians favor. That does not make him qualified to speak for the American Muslim community as a whole.

          There are, in fact, several American Muslims working in law enforcement, homeland security, and anti-terrorism, why aren't any of them being called? Why are zero prominent American Imams being called? Why are zero representatives from any prominent American Muslim organization being called? It can't be that they were all busy, or didn't want to come.

          Going beyond those witnesses, who else do we got? How about U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. who share's King's views on Muslims, and is no way an impartial voice on American Muslims. His big claim to fame is his mission to brand CAIR as a front for radical Islamic terrorists. I can guess what his opinion about self-radicalization will be.

          The two remaining witnesses were called by Democrats. One is U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn, the first Muslim Congressman, who demanded to be on the panel to provide some balance, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, the only law enforcement professional called (so far), and who has worked extensively with American Muslims in his community.

          So yes, I think King was intending something other than a constructive look into a problem, and was instead looking to provide only testimony that lined up with his view of the problem.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

            Back in January, King publicly explained his rationale for the "lead witnesses" that he wanted to call for the hearings: "I determined early on that to make the most meaningful impact, the lead witnesses would be Muslims who believe their community is being radicalized and that Muslim leaders are not sufficiently cooperating with law enforcement."

            Again, and quite obviously so, this is absolutely standard procedure for Congressional hearings. If you are investigating automobile safety, you trot out survivors of horrific accidents caused by manufacturer neglect. This is nothing new. King said it quite clearly: he is going for "the most meaningful impact". And so he is, as far as his "lead witnesses" go, calling on Muslim Americans who have publicly criticized their own community for not doing enough about the problem of "home-grown" terrorism. This is a very rational approach, and also one that has been carefully calculated by King. It is designed to make fools out of those who scream "Islamophobia!", as he calls his all-Muslim cast of star witnesses.

          • Jason Pitzl-Waters

            "absolutely standard procedure for Congressional hearings"

            Really? Name three Congressional hearings that only called anecdotal personal testimony and did not ALSO call experts, academics, or professionals within the relevant fields.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

            First of all, your definition of "anecdotal" is completely arbitrary. If these were hearings into the OK City bombing and people who personally knew Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, and had first hand knowledge of their ideas and their contacts, then I don't think you would be so quick to dismiss this as irrelevant.

            But as far as this one day of hearings go, King has called three, count 'em three, members of the American Muslim community who have previously complained publicly that not enough is being done within that community to combat terrorism. I have no idea if there will be more testimony in the future. If this is a one day hearing with a grand total of six witnesses, then I think it's pretty hard to draw dark conclusions about witch-hunting and McCarthyism.

            If you are really interested I'd be happy to look into witness lists for past Congressional hearings. I will focus on single day hearings with approximately one half dozen witnesses, assuming that is all these hearings turn out to be.

          • Jason Pitzl-Waters

            They are anecdotal in the sense that they aren't representative of the American Muslim community. They bring one perspective, and that perspective is isolated to their experience. We know some radicalization is happening. No one is against addressing the issue of radicalization itself, and law enforcement agencies are already monitoring this. What 51 human rights, civil rights, and religious organizations are against is pushing a narrative that Muslims in America are a stalking horse for "creeping sharia" and terrorism.

            I have nothing against including personal testimony in a hearing, so long as that is supplemented by hard data. By testimony from the agencies actually addressing the issue. From representatives of national American Muslim organizations. If these voices are left out, then a lopsided picture is presented.

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            So, Jason, are you saying that American Muslims, called to testify about the state of American Muslims, aren't representative of American Muslims?

            Wow, my mind = blown. I wonder who could represent American Muslims if not American Muslims.

          • Jason Pitzl-Waters

            I'm saying two American Muslims who've experienced tragedy, and one conservative American Muslim pundit, are in no way representative of the American Muslim experience in the United States, and will present a distorted picture of the problem.

          • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com highway_hermit

            Apuleius, There’s no need to pick a fight and conduct a loud argument to prove who has the bigger phallus; it’s obviously me.

          • Jason Pitzl-Waters

            Your "phallus" is a little distorted, so I had to cut it. Sorry!

          • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com highway_hermit

            Meh… It's hard to see a troll at work and not want to reward him with a great piece of ASCII artwork worthy of his efforts.

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Tony Stark.

            In a cave.

            With a box of scraps!

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            One need not cry "Islamophobia" about these hearings (as I haven't) to be critical of them (as I have). The problem is an engine of denunciation of community leadership that by inference puts the community in a bad light. I assume you're a lot younger than I and don't see how this lineup echoes the "friendly" witnesses before the notorious House UnAmerican Activities Committee. This is the kind of show some of us have seen before, and it generally creates turmoil without solutions.

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Except this isn't really like the HUAC trails. One, no one is threatening to "Black List" anyone. Two, from what I can tell, this Committee seems to be more "Fact Finding" to see if this radicalization is in fact happening. The fact that it's headed by a Republican (not all of whom are evil, they are people too) doesn't change this.

            Also, the HUAC trails were "Hunting" people who were secretly communists with the fear that they would be teaching communism in the interested of possibly destroying or converting the US into a communist nation via ideological means. From what I can tell, this Radical Muslim shindig is more about looking to see if openly (not secret) Muslims are radicalizing to a state where they will enact Physical Violence. Subtle difference, perhaps.

            Also, the HUAC trails where something like 60 years ago. I don't think most people even really know them beyond being a "Witchhunt" that "Some crazy old guy did." I don't think they're going to automatically start demonizing all Muslims simply because a group of political leaders want to know if Muslims are going to Radicalize and kill people. What would you say if this "trail" finished and the committee came out and said it wasn't happening? Wouldn't that help Muslims?

    • jamesrfrench

      You've got to be kidding. NONE, and I repeat NONE, of the hearings that have EVER been held on amorphous topics such as this have been anything BUT show hearings. From McCarthy to the PMRC (a Democrat spearheaded project, incidentally) they exist only to promote the agenda of the politician holding them.

      If after a full decade of heavy compromises of our Constitution, the various intelligence agencies don't know enough about actual terrorists to effectively stop them, these "hearings" won't do much to improve the situation. It simply means that the "War on Some Terrorists" is the crock many of us have always thought it was.

      • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

        The "radicalization of American Muslims" not an amorphous topic. In fact, its specificity is precisely what is getting the usual suspects in an uproar.

      • Bookhousegal

        The PMRC was actually affiliated with 'The Family' and 'spearheaded' by a few political *wives* associated with the Democratic Party, (notably, Tipper Gore) …And of course, the Religious Right.

        What that was *really* about was the Religious Right, not sticking present-day polarizations on there and ignoring Phyllis Schlaffly and Reagan and the rest.

      • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        That our agencies haven't been able to effectively stop them isn't exactly true. We managed to have very few terrorist attacks here in the US. In fact, except for the Ft Hood incident, we've managed to discover and stop almost every one that was going to go down. I do agree that we've compromised our Constitution to a level that makes me sick, but your intel agents have done a fairly good job protecting us.

  • Vanye

    While I can't prove that there will be "show hearings", a few minutes of searching gives a variety of comments from Rep. King, dating back several years, which do not give much support for any argument that this is an open dialogue…:
    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2011/03/http://thinkprogress.org/2010/10/28/peter-king-muhttp://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0907/Rep_Khttp://thinkprogress.org/2009/04/16/peter-king-mo

    Ironically, he was a vocal supporter of the IRA: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/arti

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      A list of links isn't very impressive. What has King said, specifically, to indicate that this will not be "an open dialogue"? Your implication seems to be that people you disagree with are incapable of "openness". (Suggestion: actually read one of those articles you linked to, and find a direct quote from King that indicates that he plans to put on a "show hearing replete with grandstanding".)

      The Irish Republican Army was formed to liberate Ireland from centuries of foreign military occupation. The implication that the IRA bears any resemblance to groups like Al Qaeda is ridiculous with respect to the facts, and obscene with respect to the basic human right to resist conquest and occupation.

      In fact, the Irish Nationalist struggle has always had far greater legitimacy than the American Revolution did, since the "Americans" were nothing but British colonial settlers themselves. By your illogic, Vanye, anyone who admires George Washington but not Osama bin Laden is a hypocrite.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        The IRA carried out a bombing campaign targeting British civilians. That's enough resemblance to Al Q for most folks.

        • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

          The verb "to lynch" derives from the last name of an officer who served under George Washington in the Continental Army. The African National Congress, under Nelson Mandela's leadership, engaged in terrorist acts that killed civilians. In fact, Mandela was one of the leaders of the faction that broke with the ANC's original commitment to nonviolence. (The ANC used car bombs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_Street_bombin… .)

          War is a nasty business, and this is no less true of "just wars". I doubt that there is anything that you can pin on the IRA that you can't pin on George Washington and Nelson Mandela. Also, those who fought in the resistance against the Nazis and the Fascists in Europe weren't exactly Boy Scouts either.

          • http://xkcd.com/285 Eran Rathan

            Honestly, from a purely strategic standpoint, asymmetrical warfare is the only thing that makes sense when one is going against the country with more than a third of their GDP devoted to 'Defense'.

      • Vanye

        As I said, "While I can't prove that there will be "show hearings"". I am waiting to see how this actually progresses. I just don't hold much hope that someone who claims that 85 % of the mosques in this country are controlled by extremist leadership will be doing any sort of hearings with an open mind.

        As for George Washington…I don't recall him killing civillians in mass bombings/acts of destruction. Must have missed that in all the history lessons. Can you provide any information regarding that?

        • Vanye
        • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

          George Washington, obviously, didn't kill anyone during the Revolutionary War. Officers in command of national armies rarely have to get their hands dirty that way.

          But some fellow named "Lynch", who may have been a Continental Army officer, was responsible for setting up vigilante committees in Virginia during the Revolutionary war, for dealing with loyalist sympathizers.

          Oh, but wait. Now that I think of it, George Washington did personally participate in the mass killings of civilians. But they were Injuns so I guess they don't count.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    "Who's next?" That's the most important question.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      Do you mean who will be the next people killed by American Muslim terrorists?

      • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

        No, what will be the next group singled out by the right-wing hatemongers after they get done trashing Muslims.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        I mean, what small (on the national scale) religious minority will next be in crosshairs of a populist frenzy stirred up by a self-serving politician?

        • caraschulz

          US Vets returning home from the war we sent them off to fight? Oh….wait….that's already been done.

  • cigfran

    Oh yeah, let's bring the weight of the State down on an entire group of citizens defined by religious affiliation because some of them may be "radicalized" (because of course only religious minorities are ever radicalized… they're never lone crackpots like McVeigh, Loughner, etc.)

    'Cause that always works out well.

    • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

      Except that the US has gone after "Radicalized" elements of Christianity. That's actually what sparked guys lime McVeigh. The problem is that generally such Radical Christian places tend to "Suicide" like they did at Wacco, TX, as opposed to say Muslim Radicals that tend to "Homicide" like what happened at Ft. Hood, TX

      • cigfran

        From what I understand, McVeigh's motivations had little to nothing to do with his religion, and a lot more to do with the general anti-state paranoia common to the militant fringe.

        In general, the government isn't too keen on incendiary radicals of any stripe – though if they were truly targeting "Christian" radicals you'd think there would have been more infiltration of anti-abortion terrorist groups by now.

        The thing about these hearings is that they appear to be a kind of return to the McCarthy era of "prove you're innocent just because I'm accusing you of being (red)(muslim)(whatever)." Which *is* how some people think – remember Glenn Beck asking a Muslim US Congressman to explain why he was trustworthy?

        • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

          I hear/read somewhere that McViegh's anti-state paranoia was kicked up into a higher gear because he knew the people at Wacco (or the other place where the same thing pretty much went down, it's been a while). While it might not have been his religion per-se, it was his contact with radical christian elements that helped spark his own terrorist act.

          I'm pretty sure the FBI and such has infiltrated such groups, and I do believe we've had a drop in the attacks of such people, at least as far as lethality goes. I'm not an expert in those groups however, so more info would be nice.

          Interestingly enough, there is a positive way of viewing both these trials and Glenn Beck asking a Muslim Congressman to explain his trustworthiness. It is not secret that many people are rather concerned about Islam and Muslims, and what they intend as far as the rebellious freedoms of other people (since Islam has a long history of either wiping out or persecuting other religions). If these trials show that American Muslims are not becoming Radical, people will fear them less. By asking the Congressman to prove he was trust worthy, Beck gave the Muslim Congressman an opportunity to prove to people that he was trustworthy. That's actually a long establish journalistic technique: Ask an "attacking" question and allow the interviewee to "prove" themselves to those who might not believe them.

  • Alex Pendragon

    Just because I have empathy for and support the human rights of an oppressed people does NOT mean I support everything that their individual culture's considered moral. I support native Americans whom I believe victims of attempted genocide, but that doesn't mean I would also be all for scalping. I am all for Muslims practicing their religion, so long as those who insist on practicing it in a western culture understand that not all of their customs will be considered acceptable behaviors by their host country, such as treating women as property or that rape is the fault of the victim. I stand a much better chance of becoming a victim of home-grown caucasion/Christian terrorism than I ever did of being an Islamic fundamentalist target.

    • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

      Treating women as property and rape being the fault of the victim are well-established standards in Western culture which are really only *beginning* to be overturned, so it is blatantly hypocritical to speak as if those are things that only Muslims do.

      • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        I don't think Alex was being a hypocrite or saying that only Muslims do those things. That said, Western Civilization only had the above attitude while under Christian dominion, and has since left that attitude in the past. Muslims haven't. And even when "Western Civilization" had that attitude, we never had anything like the Muslim Honor killings. "We" might have blamed the victim, but "we" went after the rapist too. Muslim Honor Killings kill the Victim, but they leave the Rapist alone.

        • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

          Western Civilization has *by no means* left that attitude in the past. Just look at the Republican platform.

          Also, honor killings are a matter of certain Middle Eastern cultures, not the Islamic faith. Way too many people conflate the two.

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            At this point, there's not really a line between Islam and middle Eastern Culture. 95+% of the Middle East is Muslim. And they've brought the practice of Honor Killings to Europe and the Americas.

            Also, blanket statements don't help. Please define how "blaming the victim" is part of the Republican platform.

      • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

        While it is true that the West has a long way to go in terms of eradicating sexism, when compared to Saudi Arabia (a major source of funding and personnel for American mosques) we are already an egalitarian utopia.

    • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

      Scalping was MUCH more often practiced by white Americans against Native Americans than the other way around.

    • Ainslie

      *Scalping?????* Woah.

    • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

      Three fallacies in a post I actually agree with in substance–but the fallacies do matter.
      1. Native Americans did not originate the practice of scalping; European settlers did, as a way of keeping a tally of the number of people killed in order to pay bounties on them.
      2. While in many Muslim countries, women are not accorded full equality or civil rights, it is an exaggeration to say that they are considered "property"–and it is wise to note that the treatment of women in Muslim nations varies significantly from place to place.
      3. Victim blaming for rape is so pervasive that to assign it as a characteristic of Muslim communities, as if it were unique there, is to distort the reality of women's experiences.

      I do agree with you that we are, in the United States, at far more risk of Christian terrorists than radical Muslim ones. I just hate to see stereotypes passed along as facts, even though I suspect you were merely generalizing in order to make your point in fewer words.

      I'll just add that, as a lifelong feminist and longtime counselor of women who have been subject to sexual assault and/or domestic violence, I am… perturbed at the way the status of women is used to justify repression of a Muslim minority in our country, or wars against Muslims abroad, sometimes by the same politicians who are eager to slash funding for things like battered women's centers and rape hotlines in our own country.

      And I've never seen the logic that says the way to improve the lot of Muslim women is by treating them and their families as suspects of terrorism here, or by dropping bombs on them overseas. I suspect few of the Muslim women American politicians like to rally round as justifications for war would second the motion!

      • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

        "I am… perturbed at the way the status of women is used to justify repression of a Muslim minority in our country …"

        There is no "repression" of Muslims in the US. Quite the opposite. Muslims living in the US enjoy far more freedom as Muslims than they do in any society where Muslims are a majority. Muslims in the US also enjoy far more prosperity and socio-economic and cultural opportunities than they do in any Muslim majority society. (In fact, statistics indicate that American Muslims might be slightly more well educated and have slightly higher incomes than the average American.)

        Muslims have no freedom to practice their own religion as they choose in Muslim majority countries. None. Even in relatively liberal Muslim countries this is the case.

        • http://xkcd.com/285 Eran Rathan

          Apulieus wrote:
          Muslims have no freedom to practice their own religion as they choose in Muslim majority countries. None. Even in relatively liberal Muslim countries this is the case.

          Turkey. Granted, it's not as free & open as it is in the U.S., but the difference between that and for instance Saudi Arabia is quite remarkable.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

            In Turkey, mosques must be registered with the state, and Islamic clerics (or at least Sunni clerics in official government approved mosques) are paid by the government. There is also compulsory religious education, slanted toward Sunni Islam. All of this is under the umbrella of the Directorate of Religious Affairs.

            A separate government agency regulates all non-Muslim religions.

            There are also legal restrictions prohibiting people from wearing anything considered by the government to be "religious symbols." This includes not only headscarves for Muslim women, but also prohibits the wearing of the Fez. Also I believe that Christians are forbidden from wearing crosses in public.

            The government also requires all citizens to carry identification cards with their religious affiliation printed on it, thus denying people any semblance of privacy with respect to their religious beliefs.

            But yes Turkey is the closest thing to a Muslim majority country with something resembling freedom of religion (even for Muslims).

        • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

          Muslims in this country have their right to practice their religion interfered with relative to members of other religions in this country, Apuleius. I am far more concerned by the internal politics of my country than any other. And just as it would be cold comfort to say something like "Pagans are less discriminated against in the United States than anywhere else in the world" while we note instances in which Pagan veterans are denied burial under the religious symbol of their choice, in which Pagan parents can fear loss of custody on religious grounds in cases of divorce, or in which Pagans are discriminated against in housing or employment, it is cold comfort to Muslim Americans to play rhetorical games about the current wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in this country on the grounds that Muslims are treated worse elsewhere.

          If you're a Muslim parent, whose child has had to be removed from school due to anti-Muslim bullying which the school claims it is helpless to prevent, I doubt such an argument will impress you.

          At any rate, it doesn't impress me. I'm an American. I hold my standard of what constitutes religious liberty pretty dear, and I don't care to engage in a "race to the bottom" around the rights of any minority group.

  • http://sixgreywings.blogspot.com Richard Norris

    Were I to die in a terrorist attack, (unlikely given the small town where I live) my shade wouldn't clamor in the after life for the persecution of all Muslims. I would want the country that I lived in to be an open, tolerant society that would provide justice to the deserving rather than prejudice to a minority. That's what it really means to be an American: to die free and hope that all other Americans have the same possibility for themselves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/enodiaofthestar Lindsey Vaughn

    As someone who remembers the OK City bombing (done by a Non Muslim American) I have always had major problems with labeling the entire Muslim religion as terrorists the way the government seems to want. Thank you Jason for your well written response. I just wish our government had half that level of common sense.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      No one is "labeling the entire Muslim religion as terrorists." However, Daisy Khan herself has very publicly declared that Islam has been "hijacked by terrorists." We need to figure out how to distinguish the hijackers from the hijackees.

      • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

        Actually, I have heard a number of conservative pundits and even several Pagan commenters on this blog do just that.

        • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

          Actually, no you haven't.

        • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

          "Not all Muslims may be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims."

          - Ann Coulter

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

            First, lets agree that Ann Coulter is an evil being with a frighteningly large adams apple.

            Second, for all of her evil-ness apparently even Ann Coulter concedes that "not all Muslims may be terrorists."

            Therefore, even Ann Coulter does not engage in "labeling the entire Muslim religion as terrorists".

            Finally, lets agree that Coulter is a moron, and that obviously there are lots of terrorists that aren't Muslim, just as there are lots of child molesters who aren't Catholic priests.

          • cigfran

            Why do references to Coulter's "masculinity" always come up whenever she's being criticized? Isn't she bad enough, that sexism isn't necessary to pile on?

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            I don't think it's her "masculinity" so much as she's just kinda scary, like Hilary Clinton.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

            Hillary's strength is only threatening to men who need to work on their own masculinity.

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Uh, right, sure. I'm plenty secure and strong in my masculinity. I'm still freaking scared of her. I just think her face is scary. The fact that she often seems rather misandric only adds to that.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

            I don't think Coulter is "masculine". I think she's either a mutant or an alien.

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            I'd have got for killer robot assassin who had it's programing shorted out, actually.

    • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

      It's interesting that every act of terrorism committed by a non-Muslim is "obviously" a solitary act, but every act of terrorism committed by a Muslim makes us worry about "radicalization of Islam". And by interesting I mean brazenly racist.

      • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        I don't think it's that they're "obviously a solitary act" so much as it is every other group that pulls off a terrorist attack is typically so small that they tend to get crushed like a bug right after the attack.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

    Other hearings I'd like to see:

    1. An investigation of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church.
    2. An investigation of the role of the Catholic Church and Evangelical churches in violence (especially murders and bombings) against abortion providers.
    3. An investigation of the role of American based Christian missionaries in promoting anti-gay violence in other countries (starting with Uganda).
    4. An investigation of the role of American based Christian missionaries in promoting violence against accused witches (especially children) in other countries (starting with DR Congo, Angola and Nigeria).
    5. An investigation of the connections between American Evangelical churches and mercenary groups like Blackwater.

    I support each of those ideas just as much as I support investigating the influence of extremist ideas and groups in the American Muslim community.

    • MertvayaRuka

      "I support each of those ideas just as much as I support investigating the influence of extremist ideas and groups in the American Muslim community. "

      And those investigations will occur sometime around the Fifth of Never. Our law enforcement apparatus is currently far too involved dealing with the serious threat of muslim radicals. Like the guy who thought he could destroy the Brooklyn Bridge using a welding torch. Or the ones who planned to demolish the Sears Tower, but had to have the FBI buy them cameras to take pictures of the site, rent them cars to get them to and from the site and buy them fricking SHOES.

      You know why those other investigations you're interested in are never going to happen, Apuleius? Because there's nothing to be gained for those who would order or run such investigations and everything to lose. Average white American does not want to hear about average white terrorists. They do not want their belief systems questioned. They do not want their views on sexuality questioned. They do not want to hear that the institution a good many of them have devoted their entire lives to has aided and abetted the systematic abuse of children for decades. They do not want to think about their tax dollars going to pay wanna-be crusader mercenary scum to kill brown people in other countries.

      So what you're wanting is something that I'm pretty confident you're not going to see. I also get the feeling you all ready know you're not going to see any of it. I know you're trying to look all even-handed here and maybe you even think you are, but your five points up there are all talking about taking on some of the deepest dug-in power structures in this country. What's going on right now with this dog-and-pony show of King's is focusing a glaring spotlight on less than 1% of the population of this country and trying to make them cast a big scary shadow. Meanwhile a much larger percentage of the population has been associated with the vast majority of the terrorist actions in this country and we can't even TALK about it without getting screamed at and told that we're all commie pinko liberal reverse-racists.

      • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

        "Our law enforcement apparatus is currently far too involved dealing with the serious threat of muslim radicals. Like the guy who thought he could destroy the Brooklyn Bridge using a welding torch. Or the ones who planned to demolish the Sears Tower, but had to have the FBI buy them cameras to take pictures of the site, rent them cars to get them to and from the site and buy them fricking SHOES."

        Suggestion: being dismissive about the deadly threat posed by Islamic terrorists does not strengthen your position. In fact it seriously undermines your credibility.

        • cigfran

          Suggestion: pretending that no one takes a threat seriously who does not share your single-minded paranoia does not strengthen your position. In fact it seriously undermines your credibility.

        • MertvayaRuka

          "Suggestion: being dismissive about the deadly threat posed by Islamic terrorists does not strengthen your position. In fact it seriously undermines your credibility. "

          If, for credibility's sake, it is necessary to see a deadly threat in this continuing string of no-hope dopes the FBI has managed to trawl up over the past ten years, then I'm going to live with the fact that I have suspect credibility on the internet.

          If the feds are going to keep telling us about the seriousness of the threat, THEIR credibility is going to remain suspect as long as all they can provide as proof of the threat is a collection of losers who can't find their way to terrorism without the FBI holding them by the hand and walking them there. If tenuous overseas contacts and radical beliefs are where the bar for "serious terrorist threat" has been lowered to, what about the people in this country who keep turning up with guns, ammo, explosives, chemical agents, biological agents and radioactive materials? Why isn't William Krar cooling his heels in Gitmo instead of doing a ten-stretch in regular old prison? Why is Eric Robert Rudolph being waterboarded on the off chance that he might have more information? Why are American muslim students and not "patriot militia" members finding GPS trackers under their cars? Why isn't there an investigation of where every single cent goes that's passed through the hands of Operation Rescue?

          A bunch of people who weren't even from this country got lucky once and sucker punched us. Our law enforcement apparatus went full-on bat guano crazy into "THEY'RE ALL SUSPECTS UNTIL PROVEN OTHERWISE" and too many people have followed right along with it. Meanwhile we have domestic terrorists that have been racking up the body count for generations to the point where they STILL make 9/11 look like a convenience store robbery gone wrong and we can't even talk about their connections in this country or even call them terrorists without the Right baying for blood and the Democrats fearfully burying reports and firing people to try and appease them.

          Look, I get it. Me and pretty much everybody I know and love are on the short list of People Who'd be Totally Boned if the fundamentalist muslims had their way. They don't like non-believers, they don''t like homosexuals, they don't like independent women and so on and so forth. The same people that the dominant christian factions in this country don't like. The same people who've been terrorized, assaulted, raped and murdered by people aligned with those same dominant christian factions in this country. The same people who've suffered all of that for generations before either you or I were born and before anyone in this country even knew to give a damn about muslims. Their fanatics are in near-total agreement with ours about what should be done with (and to) the rest of us. The only differences are small bits of dogma and the fact that one group of fanatics holds almost no power in this country and the other has enough power to make public policy and has been doing so for decades.

          Plainly put, I'm not going to worry about the ridiculously long odds of being killed in a terrorist attack when I'm staring at the fact that the House of Representatives has successfully voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Both groups of fundamentalists are my enemies. I'm more concerned with the ones who are gaining ground, not the ones who can't even make it across the street without outside help.

          And I'm damn sure not going to let the enemy that's gaining ground tell me that the other group is the bigger threat.

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            While those are rather sad attempts, we must remember that as humorous as some of these are (including the Christmas underwear bomber) All it really takes is one idiot coming up with something increasingly stupid to kill a lot of people.

            Even a blind squirrel finds a nut, and there are few things more destructive than an idiot getting lucky.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

            Some of the most important leaders of Islamic terrorist groups today are American citizens.

            Anwar al-Awlaki is an important leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Born in New Mexico and lived in the US until he was 7. He helped to recruit three of the 9/11 terrorists, as well as the Fort Hood shooter.

            Adnan Shukrijumah is "effectively Al Qaeda's director of external operations", according to a 2010 Rand Corporation report. He grew up in Brooklyn and Florida.

            Omar Hammami is a very high profile Al Qaeda propagandist. Born and raised in Alabama, as a Southern Baptist.

            David Headley played a central role in planning a major terrorist attack that took place in Mumbai India on Nov. 26, 2008 (in which 164 people were killed). Headley was born in Washington DC and has lived in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      Anyone with any sense of decency will acknowledge that the very first of my suggestions, a full-scale Congressional investigation into child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, is an extremely reasonable idea, and the fact that it is not happening should be (and to some extent has been) a source of widespread outrage.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I've been governed by both, and I can tell the difference.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Norse Alchemist:

    The email sent me a comment on this post that the post itself doesn't show, so I'm replying here. You wrote:

    "I find it funny that so many people are protesting looking for "Terrorists" amongst Muslims, yet I can't help but wonder if they would have the same reaction if it was "looking for radical Nazi elements" in the Christian and Heathen communities."

    I am critical of the hearings and I would have the same reaction if Congress proposed hearings on radical Nazi elements in the Heathen community. I would protest because I would not welcome any witch-hunting (literally and figuratively) political investigations tormenting another Pagan tradition. I would not get so upset if Christians were the target because they have huge self-defense assets.

    • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

      Well, at least your consistent Baruch, I'll give you that.

  • kenneth

    To the extent they make this a study aimed at sweeping indictments of "what's wrong with Islam," they are going to generate nothing of value and will alienate moderate Muslims from ever wanting to cooperate with federal authorities in the future. If they want some useful information, they'll take a look at the factors that push anyone toward extremist violence, particularly young people.

    What is it that leads people from average, often middle class or better upbringings to feel so hopeless and alienated and angry that they're willing to risk their own lives or freedoms for the chance to kill a few other for some cause? Are those factors increasing in our country? It's fair to ask whether Muslims are disproportionately at risk of alienation here (they certainly are in Europe). It's reasonable to look at whether extremist recruiters are targeting certain groups and the methods they use. It's worth noting that Islamists aren't the only game in town. Far right and racist militias seem to be doing a brisk trade these days, along with parts of the Tea Party movement that stoke anger and conspiracy theories in lone individuals who lash out without any formal group affiliation or training.

    It's also worth examining that many of the "Muslim" homegrown terrorists are white guys and hispanics who converted to Islam with a very shallow understanding of the religion beyond what it offered as an outlet for their anger.

    • caraschulz

      "It's also worth examining that many of the "Muslim" homegrown terrorists are white guys and hispanics who converted to Islam"

      Wow. just….wow. You know that Muslims come in all racial flavors, right? And that 'white guys and hispanics' are just as Muslim as the person on the prayer mat next to them.

      • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        Not to mention, that Islam is the fastest growing religion among African Americans. Which I notice you didn't mention, Kenneth.

  • caraschulz

    I don't believe in demonizing an entire group and I don't see Muslims as evil. At the same time, I'm amazed at how the political Left gets so pissed at any criticism of how Islam is practiced or that there is a problem with terrorism and violence within the religion.

    • Bookhousegal

      It's that it's another *circus* for the political Right, not anything likely to do a darn thing for security.

      • cara

        What, exactly, do you think Congressional Hearings are? For both Democrats and Republicans? It's face time for them.

        • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

          Not to mention people have the right to question Islam and its followers. They don't get a pass just because they're a minority. I'm sure we're all going to face this, maybe not in Congress, but we've all had to explain our religion and that we're not violent crazy murderers. If pagans have to deal with it, why can't the Muslims? Is their religion so weak they can't take a few questions?

  • caraschulz

    (Balanced) Witness list is as follows:

    1. the father of a man accused of gunning down an Army recruiter and the uncle of a Minneapolis man killed after joining the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab will testify about their relatives' path to violence.

    2. U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. – I think we know how he feels, Jason outlined it.

    3. US Rep and Frank Wolf, R-Va. – He serves as co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Congress and has spoken out against genocide and human rights abuses throughout the world.

    4. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca – who has served as Los Angeles County sheriff since 1998, dismisses King's concerns about Muslim non-cooperation with law enforcement. "I don't know what King is hearing or who he is hearing from," Baca said last month at a forum sponsored by the Muslim Public Affairs Council. "We're with these people {Muslim Americans] all the time," he said. If King "has evidence of noncooperation, he should bring it forward."

    5. Muslim political activist M. Zuhdi Jasser – A devout Muslim who advocates the "separation of mosque and state," Jasser is among the most prominent voices challenging Islamist ideology in the United States. He founded the American Islamic Forum for Democracy after 9/11, believing that "the root cause of Islamist terrorism is the ideology of political Islam and a belief in the preference for and supremacy of the Islamic state."

    6. Abdirizak Bihi – Founder of the Somali Education and Advocacy Center – In November 2008, his teenage nephew joined a group of Somali-American youth who sneaked out of their Minnesota homes and went to Somalia to fight for the al-Shabaab terrorist organization. Burhan Hassan had a promising future before that, and had planned to go to Harvard. Instead, he was killed in Mogadishu in June 2009.

    • Jason Pitzl-Waters

      If I was a Democratic congressman, and I called a hearing on creating single-payer health care for the US, and for testimony I called two people who had been screwed over by the current system and now support single-payer, Michael Moore, director of "Sicko," and the ghost of Ted Kennedy, wouldn't Republican opponents be right in accusing me of stacking the deck in a particular direction? Then if Republicans, offended by my choices, called a Senator of their own who's a doctor, let's say Bill Frist, and a health insurance spokesperson, would that make the panel "balanced"? Or would Republicans still be correct in that I'm trying to use the hearings in an activist fashion?

      • Cara

        Well – if Democrats had 4 witnesses and two of them were on one side of an issue and 2 were representing another view – Republicans could bitch about it being stacking the deck … but it wouldn't be correct.

        The witness list looks balanced and also looks to be made up of people who have some level of expertise or personal experience. I wasn't very interested in watching the hearing before, but now that I've taken a look at who will be speaking, I am.

        • Jason Pitzl-Waters

          The Republicans have 4 witnesses representing one perspective (Wolf is in King's corner on this issue), the Democrats called one witness (Baca), and Ellison demanded to be on the panel.

          • caraschulz

            I'm most interested in hearing from Bihi – not only because he's a Minnesotan (YAY MINNESOTA!), but because his view seems to be that the Muslim community is helping, but that radicalization can happen to anyone's family member. Things to watch out for in a group and changes in a family member's behavior. A friend of mine heard him speak and she said his words were powerful, touching, and informative.

            He doesn't appear to have a side or an agenda other than trying to prevent other families from losing a loved one to this hatred.

        • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

          I'm with Cara, sounds a pretty balanced witness list.

  • Mike the Heathen

    I welcome these hearings and can only hope that Rep. King won't grandstand or make broad, unsubstantiated allegations. But whether he does or not, the reality is that Islam is problematic. Just a few of the doctrines/concepts that have extremely worrisome implications are:

    1. Abrogation – the older and more violent passages in the Koran are given precedence over the earlier more peaceful ones.
    2. Infallibility – the Koran itself is viewed by the vast majority of Mulims as the perfect and unchangeable word of Allah. This makes any meaningful reform extremely difficult and negates attempts by moderates to condem terrorist acts by radicals.
    3. Taqiyyah – which permits deceiving non-Muslims. Historically used defensively (i.e. to avoid persecution) but there is no reason to believe it will not be used to justify aggressive action in the future.

    So… trust neither the self-serving anti-Islam experts who claim we're about to be blown up every time we enter a public space NOR the self-serving Muslim leaders who claim theirs is simply a "religion of peace." It is way past time we had open, frank discussion about it and reached a reality-based consensus.

    • cigfran

      Have you ever met any Muslims who actually live by these precepts?
      I haven't. And I've met and worked with quite a few Muslims.
      And Catholics.
      And Jews.
      And atheists.
      And …

      • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        The problem with introducing you to someone who has met a Muslim that lives by these precepts, is that they're probably dead, because the Muslim involved lived by these precepts.

        It would be like meeting a Witch who met a Christian that strongly believed "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." They'd have killed the Witch.

        • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

          Or, given that a Muslim is told they may/must deceive the non-believer to further the spread of Islam, you could have met such a Muslim yourself, and never known, because they lied to you. Not only that, by lying, they have performed a good deed according to their religion, much as giving charity would be for a Christian, or Hospitality would to a Heathen.

    • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

      Hail, Mike, it is good to see a fellow heathen in these Halls, welcome. I hope to see more of you around here, and take your measure. :)

      I agreed, these hearing will be a good thing. The three points you've raised are know to me as well, and they are indeed worrisome. it is time these things were brought in the open. Every other religion must be honest, from Christian to Wiccan, from Hindi to Heathen. Muslims are no different.

  • Tomb

    I will repost a previous quote

    "I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stifled.
    I want all the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible.
    But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any" -Mohandas Gandhi

  • Tomb

    Do you have a accurate number? Is it more two thousand or five?.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      "Is it more two thousand or five?"

      In six predominantly Muslim countries, with a combined population of about 555 million, 18% of those polled by the Pew Research Foundation stated that they support Al Qaeda. And that's just from a little more than 1/3 of the world's Muslims. If you want the gory details, look here.

  • MertvayaRuka

    How fortuitous, I've stumbled across a story that might lend a little perspective here. Let's compare and contrast here.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/28/nation/la

    Perp: angry muslim teenager
    Plot: Detonate bomb at Portland xmas tree lighting
    Uncovered by: FBI, since they pretty much wrote the plan for him and his father who narked him off to the FBI in the first place.
    Foiled by: FBI conning him into thinking they were providing a real bomb when it was actually just a fake prop

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2

    Perp: angry white supremacist
    Plot: detonate bomb at march commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.Day
    Uncovered by: sanitation workers who discovered the backpack containing the undetonated bomb
    Foiled by: Murphy's Law, apparently, since it was a fully functional bomb packed with ball bearings and rat poison (anticoagulant).

    It's real simple folks. There are more of the latter type of terrorist in this country. They've been terrorizing and killing people at a pretty regular pace for a long time now. The only thing that's been stopping them for a while now is just pure dumb luck and random chance. This was a really simple design that should have gone off and would have killed and maimed a lot of people. It wasn't a fake or a con job by the FBI. It wasn't some dope thinking he could drop a suspension bridge with a torch. It wasn't done by someone who sticks out like a sore thumb in our society and was all ready the target of endless scrutiny.

    • caraschulz

      Are you aware of the number of people who have been killed in terrorist attacks in the USA in the past 10 years?

    • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

      You haven't proved their are more of the latter than of the former. You've only given to articles proving the two different types. Unless you can show statistics for both types here in the US and Globally, that prove there are more "white supremacist" terrorists than "Muslim terrorists" I'm afraid you've failed to make your point a valid one.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

    Two more American Muslims who support Peter King's hearings:

    Asra Q. Nomani, writing for the Daily Beast: "King's Muslim Hearings Are No Witch-Hunt"

    Akbar Ahmed writing for the New York Times: "Fair To Muslims?"

    Nomani is a journalist who lives in West Virginia and has been very active in promoting equality for women within Islam. Ahmed is Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University. They are both quite obviously stooges of Glenn Beck.