As Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) hearings on domestic radicalization approach, resistance to his effort — which places singular focus on Muslim Americans — continues to mount. Faith leaders in and around King’s district have already asked him to cancel the hearings, and now over 100 religious leaders in California are asking him to do the same, citing the need for an “elevated civic dialogue transcending fear-mongering and polarization.”
The Islamic Shura Council of Southern California collected 128 signatures from bishops, rabbis and ministers in Southern California on a letter that asks King to cancel his hearing because of an unfair focus on Muslim-Americans:
[T]oday, Muslim-Americans in many communities face fierce opposition when they propose to build a mosque to worship peacefully. Ever growing numbers of Muslims are victims of hate crimes. This bigotry and discrimination, rooted in fear and ignorance is corrosive to the soul of our nation.
As religious leaders and people of faith, we stand together to express our profound concern about the Congressional hearings you have proposed to investigate the Muslim-American community. We fear this effort will only further divide our community and undermine our nation’s highest ideals. We urge you to cancel these hearings.
Hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese Americans were unjustly placed under scrutiny and suspicion because few in Washington were brave enough to say “no.” The decision to incarcerate, according to a report by the congressionally mandated Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, was based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”
Now, decades later, something similarly sinister is returning to our country. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is organizing congressional hearings on Muslim Americans. These hearings are scheduled to take place within the House Homeland Security Committee.
Rep. King’s intent seems clear: To cast suspicion upon all Muslim Americans and to stoke the fires of anti-Muslim prejudice and Islamophobia. By framing his hearings as an investigation of the American Muslim community, the implication is that we should be suspicious of our Muslim neighbors, co-workers or classmates solely on the basis of their religion.
This argument was echoed at a panel on Capitol Hill today by Suhail Khan, a former Bush administration official, who said that “we’ve seen this movie before — whether it was the attacks on Jewish Americans during the Red Scare, on Catholics, on Japanese-Americans during World War II, on African-Americans and so many others who went through horrendous experiences.”
King has already pared back his hearings by removing two controversial witnesses, but he plans to go ahead with the hearings on March 10. He dismissed recent protests outside his office over the hearings in an interview with Good Morning New York last week, saying “this issue is too important for demonstrations.”