The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

The Screaming Hypocrisy of Congressman Peter King

By Mark Potok on March 11, 2011 - 3:38 pm, Posted in Anti-Muslim

Yesterday, in the opening statement of his hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims, U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) claimed that his political dog-and-pony show was not Islamophobic because “not one terror-related case in the last two years involved neo-Nazis” or other domestic groups.

Oh really, Congressman King? Are you quite sure about that?

In fact, precisely one day before King made his eyebrow-raising claim, law enforcement officials arrested a long-time neo-Nazi in what is undeniably a “terror-related case” — the attempted mass murder of up to 1,500 Martin Luther King Jr. Day marchers in Spokane, Wash. Kevin Harpham, a one-time member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance who ranted for years about race wars and similar matters, was charged in federal court with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and possessing an improvised explosive device. The bomb, reportedly laced with rat poison to make it more deadly, was discovered minutes before the Jan. 17 march was to start and defused by police experts at great personal risk.

But apparently Peter King, despite national publicity, didn’t hear about that.

Well, how about this one, Mr. King? Yesterday, on the very day that you were opening your McCarthyite attack on Muslims in America, state and federal law enforcement authorities arrested five people in the area around Fairbanks, Ala., and charged them in connection with a plot to kidnap or kill a local judge and state troopers. The state police said they had discovered “extensive plans” to carry out these attacks, and added that those arrested had carried out “extensive surveillance” of the homes of two troopers. Those arrested included Francis “Schaeffer” Cox, the head of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, an antigovernment “Patriot” group.

King was widely criticized for the hearings because they specifically singled out the Muslim community as the source of the vast majority of domestic terrorism — even though all the evidence suggests that is false. The Hill newspaper blog, for instance, reported earlier this week that “the FBI has reported that roughly two-thirds of terrorism in the United States was conducted by non-Islamic American extremists from 1980 to 2001; and from 2002 to 2005, it went up to 95 percent.” In a study last month, the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security reported that 48 of the 120 Muslims suspected of plotting terror attacks in the United States since 9/11 were turned in by fellow Muslims. What’s more, leaders of virtually all responsible law enforcement groups report that most Muslims are highly cooperative.

But none of that has stopped King from holding what are, in effect, his what’s-wrong-with-Muslims hearings. No amount of arguing that his hearings were effectively demonizing Muslims could sway the New York congressman — let alone indisputable facts that flatly contradict his bigoted claims.

  • Jordan

    Thank you Ruslan,
    This is exactly what I am talking about, the refusal to recognize that Islam is not inferior to Christianity (and, in fact was vastly more accepting during the European dark ages).

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Ian your claims about an Islamic “lack of an Enlightenment” betray great ignorance of history. Islam had it’s enlightenment while Europe was in the Dark Ages. Unfortunately it had a serious problem with the Imaili Hashashin, and later the Abbasid Caliphate was destroyed by the Mongol Ilkhanids(initially they believed the Mongols could be a positive influence because they wished to keep the Silk Road open and they destroyed the Hashashin in their lairs). The “gates of Ihtjihad” were “closed” by the ulema because it was felt that some kind of rigid Orthodoxy might be necessary to save Islam from heretics like the Ismailis, Mongols, and the Crusaders.

    The Ottoman Empire, which emerged from this situation, was extremely tolerant compared to Christian states of the era, despite a lack of an “Enlightenment”. This tolerance was further enhanced by the presence of Sufist scholars of the Bektashi sect(which had deep roots in the Ottoman Janissary corps). Ironically, the Bektashi and other Sufi sects were banished from Turkey not by the Sultan Caliph, but by the secularist Ataturk, the very same man who did away with the Caliphate.

  • Ian

    Jordan,

    What, specifically, have I said that you interpret as endorcing discrimination against Muslims? Name concrete actions that I have proposed that amount to discrimination.

    It is near-libel to put words in quotation marks that someone did not say.

    “You have yet to acknowledge that this disparity is the result of historical events and the current economic and political state of several Muslim majority nations[...]”

    You may need to be more specific about the latter part, but the former strikes me as obvious. Of course the disparity between Christian and Islamic extremisms is because of historical events, such as the lack of the Islamic equivilant of the Enlightenment. I’m not going to waste time going over the historic context in every single post on Islamism just so some people won’t strawman my arguments. I have more faith in this blog’s readership than that.

  • Jordan

    Ian,
    You’ve espoused the “Muslims deserve discrimination because they have more extremists than Christianity” argument for at least three articles now. You have yet to acknowledge that this disparity is the result of historical events and the current economic and political state of several Muslim majority nations and as far I can tell continue to attribute this disparity entirely to the dogmatic differences between Christian and Muslim sects. Unless you’re saying we can agree to disagree about discrimination, then no we don’t agree.

  • http://devlin-mcaliskey.blogspot.com/ Tom Shelley

    I forgot that in both conflicts it wasn’t/isn’t only suspected combatants that were/are tortured.

    Tom

  • http://devlin-mcaliskey.blogspot.com/ Tom Shelley

    Although I am VERY offended by King’s hearings, in the discussion of the last post on this topic ( http://www.splcenter.org/blog/.....-the-ways/ ) I focused mostly on convincing people that the IRA were/are not terrorists. I didn’t feel like having the same argument a couple days later and thus didn’t respond in this discussion until now, but I recently thought of some thing that I want to say in this discussion before it’s too old and people ignore it. I did mention this in the last discussion and want to repeat it now.

    The best way to attack King as a bigot is to contrast his feelings about the torture of suspected IRA members in N. Ireland in the early 1970s and his feelings about torture techniques used by the US in recent years (King LOVES water-boarding). What you’ll need is information about the treatment of IRA suspects in the 1970s. Almost the entirety of a good book on that subject is available on the Conflict Archive on the InTernet site, a very academic and neutral source. The book (most of it) is at- http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/.....jmcg74.htm .

    Tom

  • Ian

    Jordan,

    “We’ll just have to agree to disagree because I hate religion but I hate descrimination [sic] even more.”
    I think we can agree to agree on that.

    Ruslan,

    Define “persecute”, because I do not remember advocating persecuting anyone. I actually remember being forced to talk about my work fighting for the civil rights of a Muslim man after someone accused me of not knowing about anti-discrimination law.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    So Ian, your solution for gay rights is to shift right-wing Christian furor onto another group; persecute them before they persecute you? This is where identity politics, divorced from the reality of class society, get us. In America especially there is a very good opportunity for the gay community to explain to the Muslim community why tolerance is for the mutual benefit of both. It does not surprise me that you can’t see the Islamophobia of the pundits I mentioned earlier, because you see nothing wrong with fear-mongering so long as it’s a group you don’t like.

  • Jordan

    Ian,
    We’ll just have to agree to disagree because I hate religion but I hate descrimination even more. I won’t stand for discrimination of any kind against any wide ranging group, even if that discrimination is based on the actions of a minority of that group, or even the discriminitory ideas of a significant portion of it.

  • Ian

    Mitch,

    The Islamic Association for Palestine made the “apes and pigs” comments and posted a document quoting the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. It was in the link on CAIR that I showed you on March 19.

    Let’s read that sentence again. “Newspapers across the Arab and Muslim world consistently portray Israel’s prime ministers with outrageous, hateful, and AT TIMES anti-Semitic caricatures.” (emphasis added). Not all the attacks on Israeli leaders mentioned are antisemitic, but many are. Do you see nothing antisemitic about a picture of a Jew drinking the blood of a child?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_libel

    As silly as the denials of racism at tea parties (including signs showing Obama as a witch doctor, calling him a “lyin’ African”, or claiming he’s planning “white slavery”) were, your denials are just insane.

    A quick search of the ADL’s site will find many instances of both protesting against criticism of Islam and supporting the civil liberties of Muslims. Here are just five:

    http://www.adl.org/PresRele/Mise_00/5910_00.htm
    http://www.adl.org/PresRele/IslME_62/5934_62.htm
    http://www.adl.org/PresRele/IslME_62/5907_62.htm
    http://www.adl.org/terrorism/symbols/kahane_1.asp
    http://www.adl.org/icom/

    I meant to type “religious discrimination is the lesser of two evils.” Apologies for the confusion, the misunderstanding was on my part. My defense of Wilders was mostly on free speech grounds, specifically in answer to a poster that supports his arrest.

    Since this is a US-centered site, I totally expect both the site itself and most of its readers to be more focused on the Christian literalism. However, while gay men and lesbians in the US have to deal with people who, obnoxious though they are, are rarely out to kill us, our brothers and sisters do fear for their lives because they are gay and I cannot ignore that. While I’m out with my boyfriend I may check behind me for drunk thugs instead of our local imam, but that does not mean I should ignore those who threaten my fellow human beings of all religions (or none), sexes, nationalities, and orientations in the name of Islamic fundamentalism.

  • Mitch Beales

    Ian which group makes the anti-semitic statements you cite?

    What I saw on the ADL site was a man with the blood of a child on his hands and the following statement:
    Arab Media’s Assault on Israeli Leaders
    Newspapers across the Arab and Muslim world consistently portray Israel’s prime ministers with outrageous, hateful, and at times anti-Semitic caricatures.
    This leads me to conclude that ADL makes little if any distinction between political opposition to Israel and religious or ethnic hatred of Jews. It is sad that this organization which has done so much to combat the defamation of other religious and ethnic groups seems to be blind to the defamation of Muslims which has become rampant in Europe and the USA.

    I apologize if I misunderstood your stance on racism vs. religious intolerance but it still is not at all clear to me why you think “Racism is clearly the lesser of two evils.” I also fail to understand why you think it is OK for Geert Wilders to “attack a religion” if you think that is a greater evil than racism.

    The danger of literalism in religion depends substantially on local circumstances. If you are gay in Topeka, KS you may find the “Christian literalism” of the Westboro Baptist Church a more immediate threat than “radical Islam.” If you are a non-Jewish resident of occupied Palestine you may find the literal interpretation of the Old Testament threatening indeed. As a resident of the USA I find the “threat” of Islamic fundamentalism among the least of my worries. Clearly this is the crux of our disagreement.

  • Ian

    Mitch,

    You find nothing antisemitic about a group that calls Jews “the children of apes and pigs” and publishes a document quoting the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”?

    When I clicked on your ADL link, I saw a cartoon with a Jew drinking the blood of a child, some articles about Holocaust denial, a drawing showing Uncle Sam as a Jewish stereotype, a magazine accusing Jews of committing the attacks of 9/11, and a Jewish soldier stabbing Jesus. If you don’t think that is antisemitic then either your glances are far, far too quick or your definition of the term is meaningless.

    My last remarks WOULD suggest ignorance of US law if a) I was talking about US law or b) I didn’t spend two years interning for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which included working with clients whose employers prevented them from taking a short break to pray five times a day.

    I really hate bringing up this some-of-my-best-friends-type defense, but the silly assumptions being made by you and others leaves me no choice. Also, anything written about me in a part of a sentence that comes after “seem” or “seems” is untrue.

    Literalism in any religion is dangerous, but it just so happens that the most dangerous and widespread literalism right now is in Islam.