Rep. Peter King: Concerns About Muslim Witch Hunts Don't Even 'Warrant An Answer'

February 03, 2011 10:31 am ET — Kate Conway

Rep. Peter King

House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King's (R-NY) planned hearings into the "radicalization of Islam" in America have drawn significant criticism from both Islamic and human rights groups concerned about pinning the blame for American extremism — itself a justifiable subject of inquiry — onto a single religious group. In an open letter dated February 1, 51 organizations urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to ensure that King "examines violence motivated by extremist beliefs, in all its forms, in a full, fair and objective way" with "a clear understanding that individuals are responsible for their actions, not entire communities."

King decided the worries of the groups weren't worth his time. His inappropriate response was to completely dismiss their letter, saying "I don't believe it warrants an answer."

King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, dismissed the letter in a statement. He said he would move ahead with a hearing focused on the radicalization of the American Muslim community and the threat of homegrown terrorists.

"I don't believe it warrants an answer" he said of the letter. "I am too busy preparing for the hearings."

King's repeated anti-Muslim statements have made it clear that the hearings will not, as they ought to, be focused on whether there is radicalization occurring in the United States or on who is vulnerable to extremism, but rather on how King can dig up evidence to confirm what he already "knows." By refusing to consider external input in designing his investigation, King is setting himself up for a classic demonstration of confirmation bias. And with troubling witnesses like Hirsi Ali — who believes "we are at war with Islam" — lined up, King is sure to uncover examples that seem to confirm his beliefs about "mainstream Islam" and its sympathy for terrorism. 

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