Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) will begin his hearings on radical Islam this week in Washington, D.C., to cries of protest from liberal groups and Muslims. The Republican congressman, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, will investigate the Muslim community for evidence of extremism. Supporters of the hearings say they will shine a light on the radicalization of American Muslims by terror groups. Opponents say they are little more than a "witch hunt" with echoes of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's 1950s-era anti-Communist hearings. Here, four possible repercussions of King's hearings:
1. The hearings will only stoke anti-Muslim sentiment
These hearings may "intensify fear, hatred, and mistreatment" of Muslims, says David P. Gushee at American Chronicle. Already, Christian leaders like Mike Huckabee are portraying Muslims as godless infidels. If those invited to testify "succumb publicly to the rapidly spreading anti-Muslim hysteria," Islamophobic rhetoric, and even violence, could spread across America.
"The danger of a Muslim witch hunt"
2. They will help us counteract radicalization
Let's get this straight, says Abby Wisse Schachter at the New York Post. Islamic radicals are "responsible for the greatest proportion of acts of terror" in our country, and Americans are demonstrably being drawn into their ranks. Our government needs to know how and why this move towards "jihadist Islam" is happening. We should all be supporting Rep. King's efforts to provide an answer.
"Denying threat of radical Islam = denying reality"
3. They will alienate the moderate Muslim majority
The radicalization of a fringe element of American Muslims is a "problem demanding attention," says Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic. But King's spotlight is too broad and unfocused to provide much in the way of scrutiny. Instead, it risks targeting the "vast majority of American Muslims [who] reject the violence and extremism of Islamism." These hearings will achieve nothing if they "marginalize the mainstream."
"Peter King, scholar of Islam"
4. They will fuel anti-American hatred
To many Muslims here and around the world, says Jed Morey in the Long Island Press, it will seem as if King is "putting Islam on trial." Our enemies will be infuriated, and they will use these "pernicious" hearings as fodder for their own propaganda. The hearings will do nothing except "throw gasoline on the fire of anti-American hatred," in our own country and abroad. King should know better.
"Off the reservation: A hearing fit for a king"