Peter King, the Republican Representative from New York, began holding hearings to examine the “extent of radicalization” of the Muslim-American community last month.
Since then, King has been no stranger to the news media in terms of voicing his objectives and rationale when it comes to the accusations of prejudice treatment toward Muslim-Americans.
“It might be politically correct, but it makes no sense at all to be talking about other types of so-called extremism when the major threat to the United States today is coming from al Qaeda,” King said in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos last month to justify the hearings being aimed only at Muslim groups.
King’s assumption of what the “major threat” to the US is interesting since homicide ranks 15th in terms of causes of deaths in America, according to the latest data report done by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
It seems like his definition of terrorism would fall into a part of this category, or in numerical terms, less than 6 percent of all deaths. It is also interesting to note that, according to data published by Charles Kurzman at The University of North Carolina last year, more of what the government defines as terrorist attacks were committed by non-Muslims than Muslims.
Why did King say that comparing violence caused by Muslims to violence caused by non-Muslims makes no sense? Is there a significant difference between violent extremism when a certain religion is involved? Does it make any difference to the victim?
This accusation reeks of the ugly kind of logic found in the worst pages of American history. Does King not remember Japanese internment camps during World War II, or Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s communist baiting during the 1950s?
It seems like King wants to make Muslim extremism different from non-Muslim extremism by using racist and religiously oppressive sentiments rather than analyzing existing data and addressing the entirety of extremist activity in the US.
His words also contain an interesting use of “politically correct.” That term, which is thrown around often, is used as an obstacle to the freedoms of expression by causing people to censor what they say.
The “political” aspect of the term implies that when people are being politically correct, they are saying what they do not believe (or inversely, abstaining from saying what they do believe) for some sort of self-serving political advantage.
These hearings are not wrong because of political sensitivities; they are wrong for the oppression they cause. Much like other minority, religious and political groups, Muslim-Americans are both historically and currently oppressed in our society.
This oppression is materialized in a number of the assumptions and stereotypes currently being used to justify biased, pejorative treatment.
Oppression is wrong and has always been wrong in all of its forms. No matter the political ramifications of King’s words and actions, they remain bigoted and oppressive.