Representative Peter King (R-NY) has begun hearings into the problem of Islamic radicalization in America. Critics charge these hearings are an outrage because there is no such thing as Islamic radicalization in America, and besides, talking about it might upset the people in radical mosques.
The latter objection came from Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, who appeared on MSNBC to express his certainty that “at mosques around this country, especially the more radical mosques, this is going to be seen as one more evidence that people are picking on us.” I think he really meant to end that sentence with “them,” since to my knowledge Nicholas Kristof does not worship at a radical mosque.
So far, most of the objections to King’s hearings have amounted to non sequiturs or willful blindness. For example, Fox News reports that Muslim representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) “cried at the end of his testimony as he described the actions of a Muslim-American paramedic who lost his life in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.” How could the existence of heroic and patriotic Muslim Americans somehow disprove the existence of radical organizations which are aggressively recruiting new members? If some members of a group are virtuous, all of them must be? The Democrats certainly don’t seem willing to extend that consideration to Christians or Tea Party activists.
As always, the peaceful members of a given population suffer the most immediate harm from radical elements. Islamic fascists around the world spend a great deal of their time killing and impoverishing other Muslims. As Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, testified at the King hearings, “The U.S. has a significant problem with Muslim radicalization. It is a problem only we can solve.”
The evidence of this problem requires sustained and vigorous effort to ignore. From “Jihad Jane” and other extremist recruits, to honor killings, Muslim organizations warning their members not to cooperate with the FBI, and the very obvious level of security deployed around Rep. King himself, the evidence is a close as a casual scan of the day’s headlines.
As Representative King notes, “the overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans are outstanding Americans, but there are realities we cannot ignore.” The will to violence is a force multiplier. A minority with a clear willingness to use violence can dominate a peaceful majority. The paradox of the “preference cascade” shows us how totalitarians maintain power by convincing each member of a captive majority that they are alone, and constantly in danger. Demonstrate clearly this is not the case, and the power of the dominant faction can be swept away with remarkable speed.
Loyal and peaceful Muslim Americans need to know they are not alone. They need to know the American government, and the organs of American culture, are aware of the radicals and working to contain them. In the past, there has been substantial evidence of the opposite. Media organizations have been intimidated into silent obedience to strict shari’a law, which forbids insults to Islam or its Prophet. The originator of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” was literally erased, forced to change her identity and go into hiding for her own safety. “Edgy” comedians who churn out anti-Christian screeds like The Invention of Lying would never dream of directing even the most gentle and good-natured ribbing at Islam.
It’s long past time for an unambiguous declaration that radical Islam will be made to respect the American principle of religious freedom… and that principle will not be twisted to provide cover for subversive activities disguised as religion. Peter King’s hearings are a vital step in that direction.
Democrat Sheila Jackson-Lee howled that the hearings were “playing into al-Qaeda’s hands,” but nothing could be further from the truth. The solid Muslim citizens of the United States are one of our greatest assets in the War on Terror. They need to know that Uncle Sam is not wearing a blindfold.
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