Archive for Rep. Laura Richardson

Peter King’s 4th anti-Muslim Hearing Focuses on “Threats” to US Military Communities

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2011 by loonwatch

Rep. Peter King, an avowed supporter of the Irish terrorist organization, the IRA during the 80′s and 90′s held his fourth hearing targeting American Muslims along with Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has had thirteen such hearings. King is known for his animus toward Muslims, in the recent past he has said that , “there are too many mosques in the US,” that “80-85% of mosques are controlled by extremists,” and that “85 percent of American Muslim community leaders are an enemy living amongst us.”

These hearings are not only divisive in that they single out a particular group, they have been lambasted for not covering the spectrum of threats faced by this country (especially by the Right-wing), while at the same time inflating and exaggerating “homegrown terrorism” and “radicalization” from Muslims. The utilitarian argument has been employed to highlight that not only are these hearings  uninterested in a real problem or a real solution, they are wasting valuable time and tax-payer money. Recently, we published a piece highlighting the findings of Prof. Risa A. Brooks’s study, empirically and definitively proving that “homegrown terrorism is not a serious threat;” a conclusion echoed by others such as Charles Kurzman and Duke University.

We covered the past three hearings which were nothing more than GOP propaganda littered with non-specialists, self-interested Neo-cons, non-sensical neologisms such as prislam and Islamophobic banter. On the flip side there were also those courageous, articulate and well informed individuals who eloquently exposed the vapid logic inherent in the “McCarthy-esque” hearings.

So continued the charade this morning; Washington D.C. political theater at its finest or rather ugliest. The populist fear-mongering focused its eye on the “Muslim American threat” within, and to, our military.

We heard about Nidal Hasan and other attacks, but we didn’t hear about the main reason that these lone-wolfs are created: our foreign policy of bombing, invading and occupying Muslim majority nations. The Congress’ time would be better spent if they debated the ramifications of foreign policy rather than broadly generalizing a whole category of people as a possible “fifth column.”

One quite revealing episode was when Rep. Lungren asked the assistant secretary of Defense for the Department of Homeland Defense, “Is having ‘soldier of Allah’ on your card a behavioral indicator that would alert military leaders that there is a threat from a soldier?”

I wonder if Rep. Lungren would likewise ask if having “soldier of Jesus, or soldier of Yahweh, or soldier of Ram” on one’s card is a behavioral indicator worthy to raise red alerts? Certainly the unstable nature of Nidal Hasan, his rambling presentations were more of an indicator than “soldier of Allah?” This however gives one insight into the double standards and maligning of Islam/Muslims inherent in the thought process of individuals such as Rep. Lungren.

In what seemed the most common sense portion of the hearings, Rep. Laura Richardson (definitely one of the anti-loons of the year), asked “Is there a threat to military communities limited to Islamic extremists, yes or no?”

All three of those giving testimony answered “no” to the question. Lt. Col Sawyer answered that they have also seen a “proliferation of other movements outside the Islamic faith,” and then he mentioned how members have been targeted by “Christian movements and Identity movements.”

Rep. Richardson followed by saying that it has been mentioned that skinheads and White extremists were a threat in the 90′s, and asked if the panelists would consider them to no longer be a threat? All answered “no.”

She then went on to state that the reason she is asking those questions is because the topic today is “Homegrown terrorism: the threat to military communities inside the United States, it doesn’t say Islamic anywhere in here.” A crucial point considering that the actual hearing wasn’t as broad as the language would imply, and instead was solely focused on the “radical Islamic homegrown threat.”

For some much needed perspective on today’s hearings watch this “elbow from the sky” from Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks:
http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Peter King and “Prislam”: Round 2 of Muslim American Radicalization Hearings

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2011 by loonwatch

Rep. Peter King held his second round of Homeland Security subcommittee hearings on the radicalization of Muslim Americans. This time the focus was on radicalization in our prison system and the threat it poses to the USA, some witnesses and Congressmen termed the concept “prislam,” a silly neologism that gives me headaches just hearing. Here’s hoping the word doesn’t take off.

It must be repeated from the very beginning that King is tarnished by his past Islamophobic and anti-Muslim comments. A point which has been made by countless journalists as well as by fellow Congressmen/women during the first hearing. He hasn’t apologized for, or retracted, any of those comments, which makes the present populist exercise he is involved in even more deplorable.

King also lacks all credibility considering he supported IRA terrorists for over a decade. Only in the magical realism world of Washington politics would someone who supported terrorists be the chairman of a committee discussing homegrown terrorism and radicalization, unless King is now going to argue that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter?”

Now that we’ve established the serious problems with King chairing such a committee, lets get to today’s hearing. The hearing was less of a circus than the first one in March, mainly due to the absence of such clowns and non-experts as Zuhdi JasserMelvin Bledsoe, and co., but that doesn’t mean that it was any better.

Aside from the contribution made by Prof. Brent Useem much of the testimony was unsubstantial. Prof. Useem essentially summed it all up when he said, “Prisons are infertile ground for the growth of radicalization.” He had a mountain of evidence to back this quote up, which he submitted to the committee.

The most eloquent, touching and thoughtful questions and comments came from Rep.Hansen Clarke, Rep. Jackson Lee and Rep. Richardson, who did excellent jobs in questioning the premise of the hearings, highlighting its discriminatory nature and also providing perspective when it comes to violence and radicalization at large in our prison system.

Here are some choice cuts:

Rep.Hansen Clarke:

“You know what pisses me off? It’s not about Islam. It’s about the prison system,” …”It’s about the prison culture. We’ve got to change it.”

Rep. Jackson Lee:

“If we look to the informational, we should include an analysis of how Christian militants are intending to undermine the laws of this nation.”

“My political correctness is based on this document, ‘the Constitution’”.

Rep. Laura Richardson:

“I disagree with the scope of this committee, I deem that these hearings are discriminatory.”

Patrick Dunleavy:

“In the Attica and Sing-Sing prison riots, Muslims helped decrease violence and stem deaths.”

The WTF comment of the day from Michael Downing:

“Gangs as urban terrorists, the distinction is that they don’t target innocent civilians”

Peter King attempted to defend these hearings and the scapegoating that him and his colleagues are parlaying by saying,

“I have repeatedly said the overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans are outstanding Americans”…“Yet, the first radicalization hearing which this committee held in March of this year was met with much mindless hysteria — led by radical groups such as the Council of Islamic Relations and their allies in the liberal media personified by the New York Times.”

He thereby effectively made it about CAIR once again, which actually stands for Council on American Islamic Relations not Council of Islamic Relations. By doing so he dodged addressing the core criticisms leveled at him and the premise of these hearings, by not only CAIR, but a wide range of groups.

Such a hearing, aside from stigmatizing a whole group of people is also a waste of time, resources and energy,

Last year, the bipartisan Congressional Research Service determined that only a single example of homegrown terrorism stemmed from an individual who was radicalized in prison. CRS concluded that prisons, “while seen by some as potential hotbeds of radicalization, have not played a large role in producing homegrown terrorists.”

So whats all the fuss about?

Peter King wants to sharpen his hawkish GOP credentials, pander to the anti-Muslim base of his party and present an image of being tough on terror, while also continuing the scapegoating and fear-mongering of Muslim Americans.

These hearings only reinforce the point that Muslim Americans have been making the past few years, they are being unfairly targeted and feel besieged as a community. Rep. Mike Honda, a Japanese-American sympathizes, drawing on his own experience of having been interned by the USA during World War II,

Make no mistake. Growing up in internment camp Amache in Colorado was no joy ride — just look at the pictures. We were treated like cattle in those camps…We look back, as a nation, and we know this was wrong. We look back and know that this was a result of “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.” We look back and know that an entire ethnicity was said to be, and ultimately considered, the enemy. We know that internment happened because few in Washington were brave enough to say “no.”

We know all this, and yet our country is now, within my lifetime, repeating the same mistakes from our past. The interned 4-year-old in me is crying out for a course correction so that we do not do to others what we did unjustly to countless Japanese-Americans.

This time, instead of creating an ethnic enemy, Rep. King is creating a religious enemy. Because of prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of Republican leadership, King is targeting the entire Muslim-American community. Similar to my experience, they are become increasingly marginalized and isolated by our policies.

Mike Honda’s words are like a clarion call to our political elites to recognize the dangerous path this nation is headed toward. Lets hope it won’t take another internment camp scenario for our leaders to wake up.