Yesterday, Representative Peter King (R-NY) — of the House Homeland Security Committee — called a hearing on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community”. King has said in the past: “there are too many mosques in the country” and claimed “over 80 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams.” Upholding his impeccable style of being impartial and balanced, King did not invite the leaders of any of the country’s Muslim civil organizations to testify.
Over the course of the past week, organizations including South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) have spoken out against the hearing, on the basis that it does nothing to address concerns over national security, but rather targets and scapegoats an entire community based on religion.
The Washington Post even said the hearing offered “a few facts and a surplus of political theater…focused less on fact-finding than on staking out political ground.”
As Asian Americans, our communities are no strangers to being subjected to surveillance, discrimination, and/or placed in detention because we are perceived as a threat based not upon expressed political idealogy, but because of our race, culture, and/or religion.
It seems at some point the national conversation has shifted more blatantly from protection against terrorist attacks to a wholesale scrutinization of Muslim Americans as a people. The very title of King’s hearing assumes radicalization and sets the frame that Muslim = dangerous and extreme. We should call bullshit on this big ball of Repube Islamophobic fuckery, which isn’t likely to end with this particular Congressional hearing. The whole thing smacks of McCarthyism as well as the witch-hunts that led to the incarceration of Japanese American citizens during WWII.
As Americans, it’s our responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable in establishing fair and balanced dialogue on national issues, without alienating and demonizing an entire group of our society. Let’s remind bigoted politicians that Muslim Americans are Congress members (i.e. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), community leaders, and have even died as first responders in the 9/11 attacks. These are the people that represent my American values and ideals, not some prejudiced, clueless legislator who is just going to further polarize the country and make things worse.