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Nudging the Hornets’ Nest: How Unjust Were Rep. Peter King’s Congressional Hearings on Homegrown Islamic Terrorism?

March 11, 2011

I’ll try to make this post almost as brief as its headline is long. In Congress yesterday, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) finally held his much-anticipated and much-maligned hearings on “homegrown” Islamist terrorism — the notion that some American Muslims are being secretly radicalized and recruited by terrorist groups like al-Qaeda.

Denounced as “an outrage” by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), dismissed as “a sham” by Moein Khawaja of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and ridiculed as “great Congressional theater” by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), the hearings were variously compared to the McCarthy witch-hunts and a TV reality show. One of the two Muslims in Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), wept as he recounted how an American Muslim paramedic died as he attended to the injured at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

King’s one-ring circus lasted four hours. What did it accomplish? Well, it revealed that 1) sensitive minority groups don’t like to be poked, and 2) American liberals will always come to the defense of sensitive minority groups. Big news there.

But were the hearings justified? Yes, and yes again. You have to be wearing size-14 blinders not to notice that extremist Islamic groups tend to engage in terrorism. No non-terrorist with half a brain should obstruct efforts to uncover jihadist recruiting operations here in the U.S. But political correctness dictates that we’re not allowed to single out any minority group for investigation. That would be profiling, a holy taboo within America’s enlightened progressive circles.

Do all Muslims engage in (or even approve of) terrorism? Of course not. King’s hearings weren’t investigating all Muslims — only those who recruit terrorists in the U.S., and those who let themselves be recruited. Like Carlos Bledsoe, whose anguished father testified about the young man’s conversion to Islam, his estrangement from his family, and his subsequent killing of an Army private at a recruiting station in Arkansas.

It goes without saying that not all Muslims are terrorists, and that not all terrorists are Muslims. (Remember the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995? Brought to you by Timothy McVeigh, all-American boy.) But it also goes without saying that some Muslims are terrorists, and that the threat doesn’t always come from the Middle East. (Muslims are as ethnically diverse as Christians, after all.)

Why is it that we never hear about Methodist suicide bombers, Lutheran jihadists or militant Presbyterians? To my knowledge, no plane has ever been hijacked by Reformed Jews for the purpose of flying it into an American building. Why? It’s simple, really: those religions just don’t inspire radicalism among the faithful.

Radicalism is like a malignant tumor in the body of Islam. (And unlike most tumors, this one spreads to other bodies.) It needs to be isolated and cut out without harming the patient. Yesterday’s Congressional hearings were a start, though they accomplished little except the further polarization of already polarized minds.

If we want to extract a tumor, we can’t be in a state of denial. To the Democrats I’d say the cancer is there, and no amount of wishful thinking will make it otherwise. To the Republicans I’d add, “Remember that your enemy is the tumor, not the patient.”

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Ian Robertson permalink
    March 11, 2011 2:36 pm

    Hi Rick,

    Yep, you said what I was thinking pretty much. I would agree with critics that the proper person to hold such a hearing would not be a well known ethnophobe, that is a fair comment. i don’t think the liberal weeping and wailing was helpful. At the same time I’d be sympathetic to investigating other terrorist prone groups, and the first ones that come to mind are right wing ones. Can we say, Tim McVeigh or Waco?

    I know I seem to be talkative today, its because I’m online doing research on moderates, independents (not the same thing) and party affiliations. Fascinating stuff. Moderates are no longer a majority but still in second not far from conservatives and still far outnumber liberals. Independents on the other hand are a majority. You should look into the Pew polls in particular. Yeah, I’m off topic.

    Keep writing!

    • March 13, 2011 7:00 pm


      I’m already regretting my knee-jerk reaction to the left’s minorityphilia on this matter. Yes, our progessive friends have a way of sanctifying non-European ethnic and religious groups so that any examination of those groups, no matter how justified or well-intentioned, comes off as racist. I took their bait, and on second reading I thought my response was a little one-sided.

      You made some excellent and fair-minded points: we SHOULD be examining our homegrown nativist militia groups as assiduously as we’re looking in on Islamic terrorist cells. I also didn’t know anything about Peter King until the hearings; apparently he’s been using them to boost his popularity among conservatives. He’s a clever fellow.

  2. March 11, 2011 5:44 pm

    The hearings were pointless, but not for the reasons advanced by the left. The majority of terrorists targeting the US both at home and abroad are Muslim. Cheken Terrorists are a problem for the Russians, the IRA an issue for the English.
    But regardless of the issue, the primary guarantor of our own security is ourselves, not government. September 11, 2001 irrevocably broke the unwritten contract between hijackers and travelers – “stay out of this and you will remain safe, either your government will give us what we want or they will kill us, but either way taking matters into your own hands is a bad idea”. Everyone who travels today knows that not only their personal safety – but potentially that of thousands of others depends on no one else but themselves. In every public instance since it is passengers that have thwarted terrorists attacks. None of the security theatre practised at our airports has been worth anything. There is no evidence that the Patriot Act has made us any safer. The FBI cases of “home grown terrorism” have consisted primarily of stupid American Muslim teens lured by the FBI into ineffectual pretend terrorist games.
    I would ask that instead of investigating why and how American Muslims are being radicalised, why should hold hearings as to why Home Land security is ineffective. Except that i already know the answer. Government is incapable of guaranteeing our security, but it can and has taken our freedom. Purportedly Franklin noted that security and freedom were at odds, but the problem is larger – government and freedom are irreconcilable.
    To the extent we sit in fear. To the extent we pass laws restricting our freedom, to the extent we tolerate x-rays, metal detectors, pat downs and body scans, the enemies of freedom – whether Al Queda or progressives, have won.
    After greiving for the World Trade Center victims, the most important act of this nation was not to invade Afghanistan, or Iraq, or pass the patriot act, or drop concrete barriers infront of public buildings, or …. but to rebuild the Towers bigger and better than ever. To proclaim boldly and loudly F’you to those that thought they had brought us down.
    With all respect for our military, it is not our military might that makes this nation great. It is our freedom. It is not Al Queda that is successfully “radicalising” Muslims in American and the world, but the American dream. This is not a battle of weapons but of ideas. Muslim nations across the world are seething for freedom right now – and in the short run we may not like the outcome, but ultimately more liberty in Islamic nations is a victory for the US and Muslims throughout the world and a defeat for Al Queda.

    • March 13, 2011 9:06 pm

      You’re right that numerous terror plots since 9/11 have been foiled by heroic and quick-thinking individuals, but the government also needs to do what it can, short of trampling on our freedom. I’m hoping that the democracy movement now sweeping across the Muslim world (though the dictators seem to be resurgent at the moment) will shift the mindset of chronically frustrated Muslims from anti-US fury to a pro-Western embrace of freedom.

  3. Montana permalink
    March 11, 2011 5:55 pm

    Why doesn’t this Peter T. King investigate the “Home Grown” radicalization of Irish Americans, who support the tradition wing of the IRA (Irish Republican Army), or Noraid (The Irish Northern Aid Committee), and being recruited by “Enemy Overseas” or worse “Enemy Overseas” the “Catholic Church ”, where they radicalize the priests into raping our young American boys, what about that you hypocrite scumbag.

    Peter King is a hypocrite, he supported the terrorist group IRA, who killed innocent British people, but hey I guess that was OK, right? Killing innocent people is OK, as long as they are not born is the United States, yup that sounds about right. I guess Jesus Christ would give all you extra points for that, NOT!

    No, there are no dancing in the street when Catholics hear about a pedophile priest, but there has been a concerted effort to Deny, Deflect, Defend this “Enemy Overseas” the “Catholic Church ”, I don’t even think you could deny that fact. What would Jesus Christ, say about this so called Church, I have a few thoughts myself.—matt-stone

    47 seconds in;—matt-stone

  4. March 12, 2011 11:16 pm

    Getting American Muslim communities to feel an extra sense of responsibility to fight terrorism by working with law enforcement is the best hope we have of being successful. That should be the objective. So did Rep. King’s hearings get us closer to that objective or did they serve to further isolate Muslims from the rest of America? Sometimes a good poke, as you say, will get the message across. I hope that is the case. We cannot kill off home grown radicalism. A fundamental change has to come from within the Muslim community.

  5. March 13, 2011 9:12 pm

    I think the purported purpose of the hearings was to examine how we can convince mainstream Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement. If it works, this would go a long way toward thwarting terrorists. But as you said, it’s not enough. As long as there are Muslims here and abroad who see the U.S. as the enemy, the plots will continue. I’m hoping that the recently awakened passion for freedom among young Muslims will neutralize most of this hatred and make terrorism irrelevant.

  6. Ian Robertson permalink
    March 14, 2011 10:44 am


    This will be too long and may get off topic. Have patience with me, that’s how I’m made, a ranter.

    The most vocal and ideologically driven persons and groups involved in the hearing had one primary purpose in mind and it was NOT the good or safety of the country. It was votes and wedge issues. Perhaps my cynicism is immoderate, but there you have it.

    I think your initial response was fine, you mentioned Tim McVeigh. I am embarrassed to admit that I occasionally enter discussions on Muslims with conservatives in online forums and I always mention Tim McVeigh to them. It really hits a nerve. Its like mentioning Climategate to Assange fans or visa versa. It drives them nuts. Every ideologically extreme group feels holy, its the nature of the beast.

    Its obvious that that the vast majority for American Muslims are peaceful. The dangerous thing is not one particular idea, its the extreme forms of that idea, as McVeigh showed us. You can ignore the rest of my rant, this is the gist of it.

    Along the same lines I try to be careful and complain about the “far right” and the “far left,” and not %^&$# liberals and conservatives. The ideological terminology is really poor; to lump everyone on the left of center together is like calling slush snow. I count (living in an extremely liberal state and having spent way too much time at a very liberal university) at least five shades of left, ranging from the old-style Hubert Humphrey liberal to the far-left International Socialist Organization with its radical professors (in English Departments for some reason) and its student dupes. In between those extremes are a whole range of interests and they don’t even like each other most of the time.

    So, ideological terminology is an entire topic in itself and a fascinating one. As a rule, the further you get from the center the more people become fanatical and mean and the less chance their ideas usually have of becoming law in a democracy, so they become even angrier, more cynical about the system, and sometimes even violent. Another violent example, to be fair and name the extremes of the left, were the Seattle rioters and all the various far-left anti-globalization crazies who terrorize economic summits.

    When I err and talk about “the left” carelessly as if it were a monolith then I tend to confuse the most obnoxious personalities with the more basic form of the idea. The center of gravity of “the left” is not actually half as ugly as Ted Rall, Ralph Nadar, or Michael Moore make it seem.

    If we look more carefully we see hopeful examples. I was really surprised and very pleased when something like 70% of Republicans in one poll said they approved of Obama’s speech on the Arizona shooting. It means (to me) that at least 70% of Republicans are not the die-hard haters that we get the impression they are if we pay too much attention to Rush.

    So, bottom line, we need to make better distinctions about the degrees of right and left and learn not to lump people who are a little removed from the center in with their far more extreme and destructive distant cousins.

    This to me is what moderation is about, trying to remove the poison from the perception that people like Palin, Coulture, Dowd, and Krugman are really where its at. We get that impression naturally, because its mostly really nasty people who write political columns, are invited as guest lecturers at many Universities, have radio shows, or lead left-wing movements of naive young people or right-wing movement of older and just plain unintelligent people. These people are a vocal but, unfortunately, entertaining minority. They are the dangerous ones.

    • Kent Garshwiler permalink
      March 15, 2011 1:14 am


      I like your posting. There are many different versions of where an individual could be on the “political spectrum”. There are many different positions of the Left, Right and Center. Also, you have to include whether the individual is Authoritarian or Libertarian on the issues.

      The question could be how deep are you in your belief? Do you allow yourself to “flow” with openness? Meaning … do you allow others to challenge your views to help you grow or do you use others to solidify your Ideological position on the Political Spectrum chart?

      I would argue that the best method is to use both as a Centrist.

      “Absolutism=logic…. Empiricism=facts … excluding Psycho=Emotion”

      Using logic and Facts as a guide coupled with Empiricism and Absolutism. I have to use all four to be Centrist and open to all left/right sides of an issue. Emotion must be lessened as it doesn’t use thought, but feeling.

      Yet choosing one side may be necessary for a Centrist. In order to choose a side isn’t to disqualify the other side’s views based on emotion, but only on logic and Facts as it is presented to the individual using the core principles of the Centrist Mantra:

      “Absolutism=logic…. Empiricism=facts … excluding Psycho=Emotion”

      As a Centrist, I tend to disagree with”Extremes” you stated that are only on the Left and Right. I believe there are “extremists” in the center grouping as well. They may call themselves Independent, Moderate or Centrists. Each level of the Center political spectrum have a different position of Solidify. The Centrists have more focus on staying Center than the others in the Center group on all issues because a “platform” has been built to stay there by the individual.

      It is based on the basic notion that any individual of the Center political spectrum group may be open to change up/down or left/right. Also, an individual of the center is not excluded from emotion.

      For example: Some or many Tea Party members may say they are either Independent, Moderate, and they may go Conservative or Social a majority of the time based on emotion (religious or humanist?), but they may not be ever Centrist. Plus, they ignore a balance to arguments when facts or logic are presented. There is a “fine-line” to being “dead center Centrist”.

      Centrists are hardcore middle believers. Emotion is a role in humans, but must never compromise logic/fact especially when being a radical Centrist. Yet, any Lefty/Righty who uses “radical” is using emotion based on either Humanist or Religious background views. Centrist is logic/Fact excluding emotion. Though a Centrists actions may be emotional, but not in thought. This would conflict with the core principle mantra.

      There are naive, ignorant and intelligent people in this country and all are trying to figure out what is what and some may choose to ignore (naive) and others may tune in and out (ignorant) and those who wish to try to keep alert(intelligent).

      I believe many people in this country have been misled by our leaders and are being manipulated for political reasons. What could explain the confusing actions our government leaders are making? Either we are confused or our leaders are trying to institute their own ideas and confusing us? Both Left and Right have had their say for 200 years since the end of George Washington. It is time to take “Center-Stage” for the people’s sake.

  7. David Ferguson permalink
    March 14, 2011 9:12 pm

    As has been said all too often: Not all Muslims are terrorists; but most terrorists – especially as it pertains to US threats – have been Muslim. In a world with limited resources, it is vital that our government and its law enforcement and security forces focus their limited resources on “clear and present dangers”. Here are the facts related to terrorist events that have occurred since 1921 where the number of fatalities exceeded 100 (data through mid-2010):

    • Of the 66 such events, 47 (71%) have been of Muslim or Islamic origin.
    • Of the 14,384 fatalities across these events, 11,674 (81%) have been of Muslim or Islamic origin.
    • Even if we back out all the terrorist attacks that occurred in Iraq after the US invasion, the number of deaths is still 8,598 (76%).
    • There have been 6 terrorist events where the US was the direct target. Of these events, all but 1 (Mr. McVeigh) were of Muslim or Islamic origin. That’s 83%.

    Since 1996 there has been a steep divergence in events and deaths between those of Islamic origin and those of other religious, ethnic, or political origin with those of Islamic origin rising dramatically.

    So why should the focus of US security and diplomatic efforts be trained predominately in the direction of Muslims? Because, to paraphrase the bank robber Willie Sutton, because that’s where the threat is.

  8. Kent Garshwiler permalink
    March 14, 2011 11:41 pm


    I like your writing lately it’s very logical and balanced. Rep. King is a long time supporter for death especially during the IRA war…recruiting Americans and money… He’s trying to get a name for himself lately. But, the issue must be addressed by someone about the Somali’s being recruited in Minnesota and around other parts of the country.

    Muslim’s need to speak up and do something, but that is like trying to get all Baptist’s to stop the radical Baptist preacher Phelp’s from protesting at military funerals. Not happening!

    As a nation, I don’t see Muslims stopping Muslims. It will take a radical force to insure security and the security will have to be put only on those causing the problem. Dare I say, “Profiling”.

    If the Muslims don’t put a stop to the nonsense…then someone else is going to. Militia’s, independent people…who knows. Americans will not live in fear on this magnitude. We must not forget how many Muslims were attacked after 9/11.

    All this stems from the interpretation of the religious doctrine and the practice …..coupled with the lack of understanding and tolerance of those religions and peoples that are different. FEAR!!!

    “Fear brings Anger, Anger brings Hate, Hate leads to Suffering”. – Yoda

    One thing I disagree with is you bring in Tim McVeigh into the Terrorist debate. He was a Domestic Terrorist…no doubt. But his terrorist act was political and not religious. Tim wanted revenge for the treatment the Federal Government handling the Waco Incident.
    Your writing and others response is like treating William Ayers bombings in the 1960’s as equal to the Muslims on 9/11. Not equal. It’s political.

    Muslims and Christians are at odds because of many things and among them is lack of understanding and tolerance. It is Religious! Not Political! The fact that our Government sticks its nose in the Middle East looks Political, but the radicals see a Christian invasion not a political invasion. Iran is maybe looking at the U.S. as both a Political and Religious invasion.

    We do need to pin point the problem of terrorism and not eradicate all the Muslims, but how can we as a nation do it if the Muslims don’t stand forward and point out the suspect?

  9. Ian Robertson permalink
    March 15, 2011 10:49 am

    Hi Kent (and everyone),

    Interesting post, lots for me to think about.

    In one way, I think that the whole right-left argument is very artificial; the issues each “side” believes in have accreted over time by convenience not by logic or some kind of intellectual consistency as parties try to find a coalition of special interests that will win elections. The (European) world used to spin on the Catholic- Protestant axis, well maybe it still does, but not to the same extent. To me as an American agnostic that axis now seems to have become pretty silly. I would like to think that the future holds the same for the left-right axis.

    I was very left wing in my youth, I come from a very liberal family, I have mostly liberal friends, play in a blues-funk band, and my life would be a lot easier in some ways if I just were to pretend I am very liberal.

    But my dear old dad, the Rutgers University History Professor, made a big point of making his kids think and not just blab nonsense about things we knew nothing about. We were asked our opinions over dinner and then those opinions were crushed if we did not have a good basis for them. In other words read five books and then talk to him again. So that is probably why I am a moderate, I was taught in my family that you have to know something to have an opinion. I take it very much for granted now but if nobody had taught that to me I very possibly would not have learned it. So in my world issues are very complicated and the emotional part of them may fall on some artificial right-left axis but the technical part is like science, it should be non-ideological, just the (millions of) facts, please.

    I do not try to find the middle on each issue, and I do have “left-right tendencies” on particular issues, but in general I just look up the facts on issues that I care enough about and find that the ideological extremes nearly always are ignoring all the facts that are inconvenient to their version of the issue.

    One type of moderate is the famous wishy-washy one (but at least those people have the distinction that they did not get sucked into on of the two so-called sides.) The other type of moderate is people (like me) who think that issues are too complicated to buy them all in one lump from the ideological camp that most of one’s friends and family belong to.

    Its that second type of moderate that could shake things up if we were to ever get really organized.

    I could write a VERY long post on what I think the reasons are that moderates are so extremely difficult to get organized, but thats really off the topic of the Muslim hearings.

    • Kent Garshwiler permalink
      March 18, 2011 12:37 am


      I like your jib! Yes, it could be said that Moderates are not one like in thought, but two.

      Moderates in the 1990’s were being played on by both the Republican and Democratic parties. Seen as “Wishy-Washy” or to say the “undecided or confused” voters. Those who had to pick a side.

      Today, I see it quite clearly as you stated that there are two groups of Moderates.

      One group who wishes to choose issues between both parties and not affiliate as anything…Independent or level 1 Moderate. Wishy-washy
      Two group who wishes to choose issues, affiliate with a center, but feel that the issues are too complicated to break down and come to a logical/factual/common sense result.

      I was exactly the opposite of your childhood. I was fundamental Independent Baptist or in other words “Conservative”. As I became older I ran into questions about why everything in life seemed liberal….or in other words “free going”. It would be easy to say Satan is at work everywhere, but I began to question what exactly my purpose is and what believes I should believe not because someone said so.

      You have helped remind me that the Moderate is a person that knows there is a center place…unlike the Independent who just doesn’t want to associate with any group. But also that the Moderate is in two pieces.

      I am still in the Moderate Two place for a very long time and thought that there wasn’t a way to break down the complicated issues in society for a “Center” Ideology, but I have been working feverishly on them. I believe there is a “Center” Ideology that can be discovered and founded. By using logic/Fact/Common Sense and ignoring Emotion (not to say that it isn’t important in life) you can come to a conclusion of making a good decision out of any situation. This doesn’t mean every conclusion is the best emotionally as it is excluded.

      Thus meaning you can’t lean Republican or Democrat. Better said you are not emotional in a Humanist or Religious way as to cloud your view of that which is true reality.

      Emotion is a human trait and you can’t truly get rid of it. Therefore, you can only minimize it. Both political parties use emotion to drive their cause to hate the other. Then would a true political party that doesn’t believe in using hate have the opportunity to take those who love all?

      Do you see where I am going? Being different than the two existing political parties isn’t bad. It’s finding out what it is they aren’t doing that appeals to people and doing it and most of the effort is just common sense/logic/fact that everyone has irregardless if a person is using emotion or not.

      I now prefer to be Centrist. I have taken issues…not all, but have constantly thought about how each group(Progressive and Conservative, Republican and Democrat) uses issues to go against each other and then coming to a logical break down of what is reasonable based on who we are as humans. I for instance am Pro-choice and Pro-life. In other words, there is a time to choose and a time to choose to live.

      End of this I have been working on designing a Centrist theme, flag, ideology, but need input from thinkers that don’t lean too much in emotion to one side or the other. The problem is that it is easy to lean to one side or the other because emotion clouds better judgement. It is always best to have a clear head so to speak and speak among other like minded thinkers.

  10. sicklygreyfoot permalink
    March 16, 2011 5:06 pm

    Mr Bayan said everything that needed to be said.

    I’ve nothing substantive to add.

    Great post.

  11. Robert permalink
    March 17, 2011 11:33 pm

    Excellent point, Montana. I assume that in order to go after those kinds of organizations, King would have to look within his own faults and correct those wrongs. Conservatives are not that self aware unfortunately. I also wish I would have mentioned the Catholic Church’s molestation issue but that wasn’t the focus. Next time, don’t you worry.

  12. Priscilla permalink
    March 18, 2011 10:35 pm

    “Conservatives are not that self aware unfortunately.”

  13. Ian Robertson permalink
    March 19, 2011 7:50 am

    Kent, You sound a lot like John Anderson in where you are coming from. I was really a fan of his and voted for him and worked for him. H started as a religious conservative and wound up as a very thoughtful and interesting moderate. Its a really cool path in my book.

    As to a moderate party, I dream that dream too, but my first dream would just be to get moderates to the polls In The Primaries, to break that dynamic where the party radicals dominate the primaries and then try to run to the center after they threw all their red meat in primary season.

    I have a lot more to say about your post, but right now have family obligations and a lot of work got dumped on me as well, so it may take me a few days to really respond to your very thoughtful post. Keep on fighting!

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