King’s Nixonian Hearings against American Muslims

Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY)’s hearings on the alleged ‘radicalization’ of American Muslims are an affront to the brave Middle Eastern Muslims who have, during the past two months, thrown off American-backed tyrannies and are even now battling the minions of murderous dictator Muammar Qaddafi. His hearings contain the same premise deployed by Zine El Din Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Qaddafi– that dissent from their policies equalled Muslim radicalism.

King is no civil libertarian or even champion of the rule of law. He jumped up and down in support of invading and occupying Iraq, and has argued that Wikileaks should be designated a “terrorist” organization. He has no respect whatsoever for American civil liberties, and is assiduously undermining our Bill of Rights with measures such as the so-called PATRIOT act, and now these unfair hearings. American Muslims need no defense. They haven’t done anything wrong. And contrary to King’s asinine falsehoods, they’ve been remarkably good citizens. King is part of a whole industry of maligning Muslims for profit, as the Washington Monthly has shown. The bottom line: stereotyping any large group of people is always wrong.

It is well known that King is a notorious supporter of terrorism himself, having championed the bombing campaigns in London and elsewhere of the Irish Republican Army in the 1980s and early 1990s. He praised them for fighting “British imperialism.” He said, “If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the IRA for it.” The IRA is estimated to have killed 600 innocent civilians among the 1700 people it struck down. (I should clarify that I am not unsympathetic to Irish concerns on Northern Ireland, but I do object to people blowing up innocents; what Tunisians and Egyptians have demonstrated is that peaceful people power can bring about change much more effectively than sadistic tactics like public bombings.)

King’s lame excuse for his support of terrorism now is that the IRA didn’t happen to have blown up anything in the United States itself. But if the British MI6 intelligence organization had a policy of “rendition” (i.e. kidnapping suspected terrorists and bringing them back for trial), King would be an entirely plausible target and could certainly be convicted in British courts.

Some are comparing King’s witch hunt against American Muslims to McCarthyism. But I would argue that it is to Richard Milhaus Nixon that we should look for the precedent here. King is appealing to ethnic bigotry (and yes, because of intermarriage and lifeways, American Muslims are best seen as an ethnic group). And arranging the world in the terms of ethnic bigotry was the hallmark of Nixon’s career. He was also perfectly capable off McCarthyism, i.e. of falsely accusing his political opponents of being Communists. But his bigotry, like King’s, was more capacious than that.

The White House tapes that Tricky Dick Nixon made to ensure his place in posterity backfired on him by giving us a window into his sick soul. One of his techniques was to single out an American ethnic group and demonize them, putting most of them on his ‘enemies list.’

Richard Nixon fumed to his chief of staff, H.R. “Bob” Haldemann, “Most Jews are disloyal.” He noted a few exceptions. “But, Bob, generally speaking, you can’t trust the bastards. They turn on you. Am I wrong or right?

Haldemann was never one to disagree with his boss. He said of American Jews, “Their whole orientation is against you. In this administration, anyway. And they are smart. They have the ability to do what they want to do–which is to hurt us.”

Nixon was convinced that the Bureau of Labor Statistics was a Yiddish cell out to sink him by phonying up unemployment numbers. He raged, “The Jews are all over the government.” He argued that someone had to be put in charge of government agencies “who is not Jewish” so as to stop the infiltration. Washington, he exclaimed, “is full of Jews.”

Nixon navigated his social world with dreary ethnic stereotypes. African-Americans would be able to make no significant contribution to the United States, he sneered, for at least 500 years. Irish are mean drunks, to a man. Italians “just don’t have their heads screwed on tight.”

We don’t need secret tapes to know that King is a bigot toward Muslims. His public pronouncements make that abundantly clear. And, my guess is that he is pulling this stunt because he has the prospect of some big financial backing for a senate run, and those wealthy patrons want him to demonize Muslims.

King is pond scum, an exemplar of everything that is going wrong with the American Republic, the Founders of which insisted that Congress keep its grubby mitts off people’s religion.

The response of the American Muslim community should be clear. They should form PACs and give as much money as they can to King’s opponent in the next election (NB: you don’t have to be in New York– the money to the opposing candidate can be donated from anywhere in the country). And, if he libels any of them, they should sue him. That’s how it works in American politics. I don’t like encouraging more single-issue PACs, but they are the only thing that might stand between American Muslims and pogroms whipped up by demagogues like King.

Posted in Islamophobia | 35 Responses | Print |

35 Responses

  1. “…what Tunisians and Egyptians have demonstrated is that peaceful people power can bring about change much more effectively than sadistic tactics like public bombings.” -J. Cole

    True enough, if they’re in the majority. That isn’t the case with the Catholics (though it’s not a religious conflict) in Northern Ireland.

  2. Regarding King’s quote:

    “If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the IRA for it.”

    The 1983 bombing of Harrod’s Department Store in London by the IRA resulted in the loss of six lives including an American. I have been to Harrod’s several times and it didn’t look like a military installation to me.

  3. “King is pond scum, an exemplar of everything that is going wrong with the American Republic, the Founders of which insisted that Congress keep its grubby mitts off people’s religion.”

    I wish you had expanded on that metaphor a bit … calling people (yes, anyone) scum is not worthy of you – had you explained how he floats on top of society, living off it’s worst characteristics it would have been more apropriate.

  4. 1- I heard King split this hair a bit further: that the IRA never attacked the US…unlike the Muslims (they were all M, right?).

    2- The final paragraph on making PAC contributions to his opponents is the way to go here. King is clearly pandering to a local constituency that includes lower Manhattan; its pretty much to be expected that their rep will be a demagogue on this subject. Using PAC contributions to give the freedom to think/act to his opponent isn’t what the system was designed to do with (being sarcastic…), but its a nice adaptation to the reality of things.

  5. “True enough, if they’re in the majority. That isn’t the case with the Catholics (though it’s not a religious conflict) in Northern Ireland.”

    Bombing innocent people is still sadistic and it was unnecessary.

  6. The Omagh bombing, a Para military car bombing of IRA killed 29 people in, considered the worst killing by IRA, injuring around 220 others.

    The people killed were Protestants, Catholics, children’s, a pregnant woman with twins two Spanish tourists & other tourists of different nationalities.

    That is what Peter King was supporting.

    He should be tried by British, Irish and Spanish courts.

  7. If the Democratic party does not condemn King’s hearings they are not real supporters of civil liberties and are becoming more like the blue team of the plutocratic party!

  8. Curious that Rep. King chose not to include radicalized christian organization- perhaps such a thing does not exist?
    OK, well how about groups that hate the government so much one of them flies a plane into the IRS building? (that incident seemed kind of “terroristy” to me, but since it wasn’t flown by a muslim it would’nt qualify as radical)
    And finally that “eccentric” bunch of charachters from Kansas reminding how much “God hates Fags”. No radicals spewing violent rhetoric there-Nope-Nada-Zip

  9. Politician seem to have recognized that their bosses are the rich and wealthy but they need the main street to get elected. As they can’t offer much in way of improvement to the main street they are using fear and hot button issues to get elected.

    Back in 70s and 80s the issue was Equal Right Amendment for women. Then that was dropped in favor of gay marriage, abortion, and sometimes gun laws. These issues work in US but wont work in Europe. No one would get excited or fearful over gay rights, or abortion in Europe.

    In Europe Islam and plight of Immigrants have been used as the hot button issues.

    Politician have to be smart to choose an issue that wont burn down the barn while cause enough fear in the electorate to move. Islam and Immigrants are such issue in Europe because there is a predominate identity in each of the countries. For instance there is French, German, Dutch… identity. You can go after Muslims all you want and not much would happen in the fabric of the society. Just as gay marriage has been in US.

    US is different story. Racial conflicts can cause major damage to the fabric of the society and may burn down the barn.

  10. Nixon;

    “But, Bob, generally speaking, you can’t trust the bastards. They turn on you. Am I wrong or right?”

    He had it partly right, but he referred to the wrong group.

    It’s the racist bigots who hate………… jews, blacks, Roman Catholics, muslims, Asians, gays, etc etc.

    that will “turn on you”.

    whoever is convenient, and most powerless at the moment.

  11. Jeffrey Stewart
    “though it’s not a religious conflict”

    hard to know how to explain this (link to merely to pick one incident, other than through the lens of religious conflict.

    juan speaks of irish concerns in northern ireland, im not sure what he means but its worth pointing out that people in the republic arent all that bothered with the north. there have been all kinds of survey that show the northern question to be an irrelevancy to southerners. also the dovish sdlp were the main party of the northern nationalist community, the ira were only represented a minority-something like ten% or so i believe

    • Well there’s your problem right there. You rely on Wiki for the history of the “troubles.” I suggest you do some real research on the history of English conquest and subjugation of Ireland and then get back to me.

      • hmmmm, im irish to begin with so im guessing maybe i at least know the outline of “the 800 hundred years”. the kings mills massacre isnt remotely contested ground. what do you dispute about the wikipedia account? or indeed the darkley church massacre by the inla? or the ethnic cleansing of protestant smallholders from the border regions by the provisionals?

    • Then why does Ireland import a disproportionate amount of its oil from Qaddifi’s Libya, proportionately more than any other country ==>> link to You’d think it would get most of its oil from say Norway, which shares Ireland’s alleged neutrality.

      The only reason that comes to my mind is in gratitude for Libya’s supply of weapons, Cemtex etc to the IRA. Unlike Italy, Ireland has no historical links to Libya.

      And why did Qaddaffi supply the weapons to the IRA. Partly because of the left wing ideology he shares with the IRA’s political wing Sinn Fein, but mainly for the money. And where did the IRA get the money. Mainly from Peter King’s pals in New York City & Ted Kennedy’s in Boston of course. And what did Qaddafi do with money he made from sales of weapons to the IRA, Amongst other things he bombed a Pan Am plane over Lockerbie, that’s what he did with it.

      There’s echo’s of Iran/Contra here.

      • phil daniels- The only reason that comes to my mind is in gratitude for Libya’s supply of weapons, Cemtex etc to the IRA. Unlike Italy, Ireland has no historical links to Libya.

        this is a laughable absurdity. the ira and the government of the republic are historic enemies going back as far as the 1920s

  12. i meant to say the sdlp were the main party during the time of the ira’s active campaign

  13. The problem with that, Dr. Cole, is that they automatically accuse any Muslim organization, PAC or not, of allying with Hamas, Hizbullah, and deem it a terrorist organization (CAIR, for example) before it can even take off the ground.

    I agree that single-issue PACs are an affront, but sometimes “radical” measures have to be taken so that the voices of “moderates” will be heard.

  14. Or….put more directly….
    “Peter King is an affront to democracy, to decency….and to humanity.” End of topic.

  15. Like most wars, Ireland’s ‘Troubles’ has been a dirty war. Terrorism and atrocities have been committed by the Brits and their Loyalists, not only by the IRA.

    But not to nitpick. Rep. King is certainly pond scum, and Nixon is a good comparison.

  16. If I’m not mistaken, Nixon boosted his young career, while on the House Un-American Activities committee, on the coattails of Senator Joe McCarthy. It was only after Tricky Dick became vice-president that Ike made him renounce his pal, when some war buddies of Eisenhower’s were ensnared.

  17. Independence movements have a right to violence, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. There isn’t some court that determines which movements are legitimate enough to have the same right to kill as a sovereign state.

    However, violence is a strategy, and it carries costs and benefits that the leaders of movements must evaluate. What worked in Egypt did not work in Libya, so revolution became necessary. Moslems and Arabs have to evaluate those tradeoffs the same as Irishmen and colonial Americans had to. If you try to overthrow the government, it will fight back, and you may be the bad guy and it the good guy.

    But just this one paragraph is already too morally complicated for most Americans, so let’s just say that King’s racism is that he believes colonial domination is only wrong when whites do it to other whites, while like a lot of Americans he implicitly believes that non-whites are “uplifted” by Anglo-Franco-American occupation. So how dare Germany do to Europe what Europeans did to Africa and Asia? How dare the Vietnamese refuse to live under French rule? How dare non-whites in America (and Israel) threaten to give birth to enough voters to seize democratic control in the future?

  18. A superb commentary–laudable even for you. It is fantastically grotesque that a supporter of the IRA would turn around and smear Muslim-Americans and Islamic-Americans in this manner: “they didn’t kill Americans??!?!!?” Is that what he REALLY said? Your “peaceful people power” phrase, also noted in a comment above, is especially on point, even prescient.

  19. King is creating haltered towards more than 7 millions law abiding citizens, American Muslims who work so hard, pay taxes and help developments in all areas of our nation. They are determined to VOTE him and his bodies out of the office in new election. Profiling and pinpointing only Muslims and treat them as bad apples is very unconstitutional and even uncivilized 3rd world countries stopped having such an unpopular mentality. King needs to wake up and thinks twice that America can not be resemble as ex-South Africa apartheid which died long time ago.

  20. I agree with most of what you say about King, but I don’t see how Muslims are an ethnic group. The category “Muslim” includes people of probably almost every ethnic group — like the category “American.” So, surely, Muslim Americans are not a single ethnic group.

    • Muslims from African countries I daresay have little in common with Muslims from Indonesia, apart from their religion. In the same way that Jews do not represent an ethnicity.

    • American Muslims over-all exhibit some elements of ethnicity as defined by sociologists, including endogamy or marrying other American Muslims; see this article in the Muslim World. Also a shared broad cultural heritage (Qur’an, hadith, certain lifeways). Although American Muslims are diverse, they are gradually constructing themselves as an ethnicity. Ethnicity is different from race.

  21. I wonder if Peter King and other US politicians who supported the IRA were/are aware that the IRA not only has links with Libya, but also with North Korea and Cuba ==>> link to

    In the Korean War 33,686 US troops were killed in battle, 2,830 died from non-battle causes (mainly disease and hypothermia) and there are 8,176 missing in action. Total deaths 44,692.

    No need to send King to Britain. King and planty of others gave finacial support to an organisation that gave comfort to countries that are directly responsible for the deaths of thousands and thousands of Americans, troops and civilians.

    At least Nixon was consistent, he disliked, distrusted everyone who didn’t have gilt edged WASP credentials. Whereas the likes of King, and not a few others, on both sides of the aisle, are as fickle as roomful of paper dolls.

  22. well, i live on long island, ny. anyone the right attacks automatically becomes my friend. just the way the man speaks reveals how slow thinking he is. his ideas are like chunks of concrete that take great effort to pull out of his mouth.
    he must be recalled and/or defeated in the next election.

    he is pond scum or more accurately a bottom feeder feasting on the gold fish pellets that the KOCH bros feed their lakeys.

  23. One of the worst TV shows demonizing Muslims is NCIS. This show never met a Muslim it didn’t deem a terrorist, and it glorifies the Mossad–the intelligence agency of the fascist state of Israel. It’s popular shows like NCIS that infuse racist attitudes in the minds of ignorant Americans.

    • Donna …. I recently had an illness and ended up watching all too many episodes of NCIS. Indeed you are correct with their cutsie Israeli Mossad agent who, without fail, makes an amusing malapropism of some figure of speech each week.

  24. Productivity doubles in the US over the last 40 years, so wages doubled also?

    No! Wages are down 7%.

    Congress needs to investigate this very real, home-grown, threat to America.

    Note that American workers have been screwed over the last 40 YEARS – Democrats are fine with King’s investigation as it is a distraction from their decades-long complicity with Republicans to exploit the American worker.

  25. One can only imagine what mountain would have erupted if somebody from Congress today would have allocated an inquiry into Jews supporting the Israel lobby against the best interest of the U.S. He/she would not have been in office to hear the results! Or for that matter an inquiry against anybody else (Mexican, Blacks…hmmm Irish!).

    I can say with some safe bet, that nothing like this would happen in Ireland.

    Certainly there is a problem, but Peter King’s bias credentials disqualify without a doubt. He is no position to conduct a hearing on anything. I guess some people will not stop at anything to get a paragraphs in the history book (who the hell heard of Peter King before this crap shoot of a hearing?)

    Really, it is utterly unbelievable that in this day and age, in the great ole’ U.S. of A something like targeting of an entire religion could go on, without someone really saying…well anything.

    It is rather difficult to give democracy to the Muslim world, when Muslims living inside the country are treated like this.

    link to

  26. The question is whether the Republican Party will lose or gain support when it exploits such hot issues as radicalisation of Islam. Anwyway I think the rationale behind all this is the fact that Republicans have realized the need to confront the issues like this as the presidential elections are approaching and no potential candidate could compete with Obama.

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