about national security, then, for your sake, I hope you won't answer the phone when a scammer calls and offers you sure-fire wealth in exchange for your credit card number.
The hearings are another installment of Fear Theater, this time brought to you by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY). They will offer nothing that the nation needs for greater security – no innovations for improved international police work, no smartened relations with majority-Muslim nations and communities, no push for more competitive fairness in the international economy – but they will bring us wagonloads of politely coded alarm about the Turbaned Brown Menace and the need for those in "the Muslim community" to "do their part" in assisting anti-terrorist authorities. As if law-abiding Muslim citizens are not already doing their part by simply being law-abiding.
This photo-op congressional farce is as excruciatingly obvious as it is disgusting, which is why the hearings are being met with street protests even before they begin. In New York, protesters stood in the rain on Sunday and decried Rep. King's exercise in stereotype and blame by association.
King, for his part, offered a comically lame defense. According to CNN:
King defended the hearings on CNN's "State of the Union" program. "We're talking about al Qaeda," he said. "We're talking about the affiliates of al Qaeda, who have been radicalizing, and there's been self-radicalization going on within the Muslim community, within a very small minority, but it's there." King compared the goal of the hearings to investigating the Mafia within the Italian community or going after the Russian mob.
Right. Which is why I am utterly confident that Rep. King's Mafia hearings would be titled "The Radicalization of American Italians."
The name of the Muslim hearings, in fact, says everything. The title is a dead giveaway that the hearings serve only as another stunt to toss scraps of red-meat race-bait to scared, angry voters who, without such continual distractions, might start asking intelligent questions about the kinds of policies that would actually make us all safer. There is no widespread terrorist-friendly "radicalization" of Muslim Americans any more than there is a rampant mob-friendly radicalization of Italian-Americans. In fact, there is a better case for holding hearings on "the radicalization of malcontent American whites," e.g., the Tea Party (complete with publicly-wielded guns and violent anti-government dogma), than there is for an inquiry into American Muslims.
If King's hearings were serious, they would be titled "Combatting al Qaeda's influence in America." And they would, like any smart threat analysis, look at all potentially dangerous players, including the Jihad Janes and munitions sellers. But these Muslim hearings are about neither seriousness nor safety. They are about playing the simplistic fear card in yet another attempt to convince 300 million Americans that a smattering of presumed Muslim potential suicide bombers poses a greater threat to their health than, say, a broadly toxic food industry and a completely broken health care industry.
After all, why actually address the terrorism problem when you can instead scapegoat Muslims and leave things as they are?