Peter King (R-NY): "Too Many Mosques in This Country"

The Politico ran a story about how Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said that there are "too many mosques in this country." Eventually, they updated the post with this:

The quote was taken entirely out of context by Politico. My position in this interview, as it has been for many years, is that too many mosques in this country do not cooperate with law enforcement. Unfortunately, Politico was incapable of making this distinction.

They also posted a video that lets you see the context:

We have too many mosques in this country, we have too many people who are sympathetic to radical Islam. We should be looking at them more carefully, we should be looking at how we can infiltrate . . . we should be much more aggressive with law enforcement.

That really doesn't sound any better to me. On a policy level, though, in context we can see that King isn't really calling for a reduction in the quantity of mosques. Rather, his proposal seems to be that Muslims should be treated to a presumption of guilt and their religious institutions treated as criminal conspiracies to be infiltrated. I was going to try to construct an analogy about how King probably wouldn't be happy with a presumption of guilt being placed on Irish-American institutions, but it turns out King's actually a longtime IRA supporter (though, it seems, not since 9/11) so he must understand this dynamic on some level. And, of course, King turns out to have some history here:

King, who has said that all Muslims aren't terrorists but that all recent terrorists are Muslim, favors an ethnic and religious profiling scheme that would include foreign and American-born travelers. "I would give the investigators and screeners a lot of discretion as to where it ends," he said.

Despite King's endorsement of such a process, it is a technique that has been widely dismissed as a legitimate law enforcement tool.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, a childhood friend of King's whom the congressman calls one of the nation's leading counter-terrorism officials, has previously called racial profiling "nuts" and "ineffective," and eliminated the practice when he oversaw the U.S. Customs Service.

And, of course, King's belief that Muslim religious institutions should be treated as if they're criminal conspiracies makes more sense in light of his view that 85 percent of American mosques have extremist leadership, a delightfully made up fact that seems to undergird his thinking on this issue.