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The Problems With Peter King’s Hearing

And why the ADL objects to it, too

Marc Tracy
March 10, 2011
Rep. Peter King at his hearing today.(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
Rep. Peter King at his hearing today.(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

There are two problems with Rep. Peter King’s congressional hearing into “Muslim American radicalization” (and no, neither is that King is a supporter of and apologist for the Irish Republican Army—hypocrisy is heinous, but it is not proof of wrongness).

The moral argument was nicely made by the Anti-Defamation League, which decided that this week it would indeed live up to its nearly century-old mission, “to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” “We strongly urge you and other Members of Congress to explore this serious issue without creating an atmosphere of blame and suspicion of the American Muslim community,” Abraham Foxman and the ADL’s chief counsel wrote King and other members of the Homeland Security Committee. “Congressional efforts to explore legitimate security concerns should not be overwhelmed by the kind of unfair stereotyping and prejudice that has too-frequently accompanied recent public debates. Singling out the Muslim American community for special scrutiny or suspicion would be discriminatory, offensive, ineffective and counterproductive.” (The Reform movement, the National Jewish Democratic Council, and J Street have also expressed reservations about the hearing.)

Then, the practical argument. “King risks helping to promote precisely the narrative Osama bin Laden and his sympathizers try to promote, namely dividing the world between Muslims and non-Muslims,” said a former top Pentagon counterterrorism expert. A number of folks, including Attorney General Eric Holder, have expressed concern that the panel could deter American Muslims from cooperating with law enforcement—a far more important counterterrorism tool than, y’know, a Congressional panel could ever be.

Anyway, your required reading today is Tablet Magazine columnist Michelle Goldberg’s review of King’s supremely self-aggrandizing novel, Vale of Tears. It is a romp (the review, not, apparently, the novel).

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.