New York Congressman Peter King’s so-called homeland security hearing on Muslim radicalization should surprise no one. We’ve been at war with Islam abroad for 10 years. It’s amazing it’s taken this long for the xenophobia and hate-mongering to be elevated to heroic status on Capitol Hill, where even the fringe the notion of Barack Obama as a Muslim fifth columnist still has currency. It’s all part of a long American tradition, rich in blood and bile.
This is a country partly built on the genocidal eradication of the Indian, on the enslavement of blacks for 300 years and the terrorizing and demonizing of blacks for another hundred. At the turn of the last century it was the “Yellow Peril” that led Congress to ban Asian immigration. In the 1920s, at a time when Jews were openly barred from colleges, clubs, restaurants and neighborhoods, Henry Ford was devoting page after page of his Michigan newspaper to battling what he perceived as the threat of Jewish radicalization in America, and dreaming of the day when the country would be cleansed of them. That was just warm-up for the mass hysteria of the 1950s when it was feared that Soviet communists, who had trouble keeping a light bulb functioning properly in Russia, would overrun the United States thanks to a few well-placed “infiltrators.” The Soviet threat has become the Muslim threat.
And to keep the bigots along the Mexican border happy, there’s always the “Brown Peril” to worry about, and goon brigades such as the “Minutemen Project” to meet brown skins with brown shirts. So Peter King, if anything, is a cliché, an elected, and therefore presumably more respectable reflection of our national prejudices. But the difference between him and, say, that radical nut Terry Jones, the Gainesville preacher who warms his religious bigotry to the fire of burning Korans, is just a different address.
If there is a “radicalization” problem in the United States, Muslims have better take a number. They’re vastly outnumbered. The odd attack with a Muslim at the trigger can’t be denied. We are a diverse country. But bullet for bullet, it’s safe to say that Muslims are more law-abiding than their more Christian brothers, at least stat wise.
“In an 11-day period this January,” the Southern Poverty Law Center reports, “a neo-Nazi was arrested headed for the Arizona border with a dozen homemade grenades; a terrorist bomb attack on a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Wash., was averted after police dismantled a sophisticated anti-personnel weapon; and a man who officials said had a long history of antigovernment activities was arrested outside a packed mosque in Dearborn, Mich., and charged with possessing explosives with unlawful intent.” The same Dearborn where Henry Ford once spewed his anti-Semitism. “That’s in addition, the same month, to the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, an attack that left six dead and may have had a political dimension...”
Peter King’s Muslim McCarthyism
March 11, 2011