Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is reportedly stepping down from his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. The New York Republican is well known for his Islamophobia and he famously spearheaded anti-Muslim House investigations like the hearing on “Radicalization In The U.S. Muslim Community.” The New York Daily News reports that GOP Reps. Mike Rogers (AL), Mike McCaul (TX), and Candice Miller (MI) are jostling to assume the committee’s chairmanship. But are any of these contenders likely to initiate anti-Muslim hearings of the kind King championed?
Dozens of House members and more than a hundred religious leaders opposed King’s hearings. The committee called on faux Islam experts like Dr. Juhdi Jasser, who narrated the anti-Muslim film “The Third Jihad.” Some of the witnesses King wanted to hear from were forced to back out after backlash because they were too anti-Muslim. At the hearings, King pushed false narratives about Muslim-Americans, for example claiming that “too many mosques…don’t cooperate with law enforcement.” In the past, King has said that “80 percent of the mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams” and that “almost 90 percent of the terrorist crimes are carried out by the Muslim community.” The Southern Poverty Law Center said King’s hearings “demonized” Muslim-Americans.
McCaul could be the most likely candidate to carry on King’s anti-Muslim legacy should he take the committee gavel. He praised King’s investigations, claiming they set out to “end the era of political correctness.”
McCaul also suggested that Islam and terrorism are linked, saying King’s anti-Muslim hearing should not “overlook the correlation between Islam and national security.”
Rogers is just as likely to keep King’s anti-Muslim flame going. He not only supported the Muslim-American investigations, Rogers even criticized the Council on American-Islamic Relations for instructing Muslim-Americans to obtain a lawyer when law enforcement officials ask questions, even though they were being targeted. “I want to make it known that I don’t think they have to have an attorney present to talk with residents when they are just finding out how things are going,” he said.
It’s more uncertain what direction Miller will take the committee on this issue. While she called King’s anti-Muslim hearings “very, very important,” Miller added that Islam is a “peaceful” religion and that she didn’t know why the committee “never had any” hearings on other groups that might be a threat to America. She did, however, criticize the media for “prejudging” the investigation as targeting Muslim-Americans disproportionately.
The reality is that only 12 percent of terrorist incidents in America have been caused my Islamic extremists, while right-wing extremists have committed the majority of the incidents (56 percent). Furthermore, a Gallup poll last year found that 89 percent of Muslim Americans “reject violent attacks by individuals or small groups on civilians.” The poll also found that 92 percent of Muslim-Americans “have no sympathy for al-Qaeda.” And contrary to what King has said, a Duke University study published in 2010 found that American Mosques are “actually a deterrent to the spread of militant Islam and terrorism.”
While King’s departure as the House Homeland Security Committee chairman is bad news for Islamophobes, it presents an opportune time to transition the committee’s focus from Muslim-Americans to significant threats in America. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the candidates running to fill King’s role are likely seize that chance.