King's Crusade

Peter Beinart calls out the new head of the homeland security committee:

[Peter] King, a Long Island Republican, will hold hearings this week on terrorism by American Muslims. Think about that for a second. King isn’t holding hearings on domestic terrorism; he’s holding hearings on domestic terrorism by one religious group.

Is most American terrorism Muslim terrorism? Actually, no.

Over the last decade or so, there’s been at least as much domestic terrorism by folks like Timothy McVeigh, Theodore Kaczynski, Eric Rudolph (who bombed the 1996 Atlanta Olympics), Bruce Edwards Ivins (the main suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks), and most recently, Jared Lee Loughner. But even if American Muslims are statistically more likely to commit terrorism than non-Muslims, it is still wrong to define the problem in religious terms. I’m pretty sure that in the 1950s, Jewsgiven their overrepresentation in the American Communist Partywere overrepresented as Soviet spies. Italians may have been overrepresented in organized crime. Yet for a member of Congress to define either Soviet subversion or organized crime as the province of a particular religious or ethnic group would still have been wrong.

Adam Serwer reminds us:

[A]ccording to the Triangle Center on Terrorism at Duke University, 40 percent of domestic terror plots have been foiled with the aid of the Muslim community. That number is as much a sign of cooperation from Muslims as it is an indication of how relatively few domestic terror attacks there have been in comparison to the attention they receive. While domestic radicalization is a serious issue worthy of Congress's attention, King's own history of support for violent extremism in the context of Irish nationalism and his record of making broad, unsupported negative generalizations about American Muslims makes him a poor candidate to lead that examination.