Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has become one of Congress' strongest voices on the threat to the U.S. from Islamic terrorists. But as his hearings into the radicalization of American Muslims kick off, King's past support for a different kind of terrorist organization — the Irish Republican Army — has come under the spotlight. The New York Times reports that King pledged in 1982, when he was a Long Island comptroller, to support the "brave men and women" of the IRA as they "struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry." King explained that the situation was different, as the IRA never attacked the U.S. Does it matter that this anti-terror campaigner once supported an avowed terrorist organization? (See Jon Stewart's take on King)
To King, some terrorists are better than others: It's true that the IRA never attacked the U.S, says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. But neither have Hamas, Hezbollah nor the Muslim Brotherhood. "Is he comfortable with them, too?" True, it's not fair to equate the IRA with al Qaeda, but both can fairly be "described as terrorist organizations." Should we really have a Homeland Security Committee chairman who is on record being "sympathetic to those doing the killing"?
"The anti-terror crusader who makes some exceptions"
Can't a politician change his mind? Back when King made his comments, says Jammie Wearing Fool at his blog, a lot of people viewed the IRA "not as a terrorist group, but as those fighting for independence from Britain." Even liberals like Ted Kennedy gave them support. But their violence, and support for "radical leftists", turned many Irish-Americans off, and the events of 9/11 made us view terrorism in a different way. King is no "terrorist lover," but a politician with evolving beliefs.
"Selective outrage: NY Times suddenly concerned American politicians sympathized with I.R.A."
King's IRA support might even give him unique insights: The IRA isn't al Qaeda, says Ben Smith at Politico, but it did have plenty of "connections in the Arab and Muslim world." Indeed, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi supplied explosives to the group, and the Palestine Liberation Organization worked with them for awhile. Couldn't this experience give King a better insight into "the difference between violent nationalist resistance and transnational terror groups"?
"The IRA and the Congressman"