On Thursday, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King (R-NY) will begin his hearings on “the Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community.” Clinging to his McCarthy-esque paranoia in the face of backlash, King continues to lob “demonstrably spurious assertions” to salvage some credibility, such as his claims that “80 percent of the mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams,” that Muslims’ “ideology of extremism has been spread to the youth,” and that Muslims “won’t come forward and cooperate with the police.”
But those who actually have “direct experience” with Islam in America, like Dearborn, MI Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. (D), know that King’s fear-mongering is “just not true.” With Dearborn possessing a population that is 30 percent Arab American and “the largest mosque in North America,” O’Reilly notes that the community is uniquely positioned to offer “a pretty good perspective on what it is that Islam represents because we see it through the actions and behaviors of our neighbors.” And it is this perspective from which O’Reilly sees King’s hearings for what they are: “When someone goes into what is supposed to be fact finding but they’ve already determined the outcome, then that fact-finding process is flawed”:
CHETRY: Is [King] exaggerating this threat?
O’REILLY: Yeah, I’m very concerned. Now you’ve heard from some good experts so I’m going to focus on our local community. You know, when someone goes into what is supposed to be fact-finding but they’ve already determined the outcome, then that fact-finding process is flawed. For us, we’ve lived for 80 years with Muslims as an active part of our community. We have direct experience — many of our young people are 4th and 5th generation Americans. Therefore, we have a pretty good perspective on what it is that Islam represents because we see it through the actions and behaviors of our neighbors. The thing it represents is that they want to be fully American, they believe in America, they want to be part of our community. I think that’s something that’s been misrepresented and misunderstood throughout the country by certain groups. […]
You can find people who point out extreme conditions. But if we base decisions, if we base policy on extreme decisions, we’re going to make the same mistakes we’ve made over in the past where we’ve infringed on people’s constitutional rights because we’ve presupposed that their disposed to doing something wrong. Our experience and our community says that that’s just not true.
O’Reilly also points out that if King were actually to talk to law enforcement, he’d find that both state and federal law enforcement and the Muslim community are continuously working together to root out extremism. He notes that through the program called “Bridges” — or Building Bridges to Strengthen America — the “CIA and FBI” are actively working with Muslims to “forge an effective counterterrorism enterprise.” This “extraordinary” level of cooperation and participation, of course, is not just happening in Dearborn, but in cities across the country — all which seem to fall squarely into King’s blindspot.
O’Reilly further pointed out that King’s myopia ignores the fact that dangerous extremism is not limited to Muslims, but to those with emotional or psychological issues “whether their Muslim or belong to any other group.” Indeed, the last extremist threat to Dearborn came from a Vietnam veteran who plotted to bomb a Dearborn mosque. By agitating racial and religious prejudice rather than focusing on dangers posed by behavior rather than ethnicity, King whole-heartedly rejects the wisdom garnered from a very vital — and very American — perspective.