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Peter King’s Muslim McCarthyism

| March 11, 2011

Who are you looking at? (© zerlinaa / Rym)

FlaglerLive Editor Pierre Tristam’s weekly commentaries are broadcast on WNZF on Fridays just after 9 a.m. Here’s this week’s.

New York Congressman Peter King’s so-called homeland security hearing on Muslim radicalization should surprise no one. We’ve been at war with Islam abroad for 10 years. It’s amazing it’s taken this long for the xenophobia and hate-mongering to be elevated to heroic status on Capitol Hill, where even the fringe the notion of Barack Obama as a Muslim fifth columnist still has currency. It’s all part of a long American tradition, rich in blood and bile.

This is a country partly built on the genocidal eradication of the Indian, on the enslavement of blacks for 300 years and the terrorizing and demonizing of blacks for another hundred.  At the turn of the last century it was the “Yellow Peril” that led Congress to ban Asian immigration. In the 1920s, at a time when Jews were openly barred from colleges, clubs, restaurants and neighborhoods, Henry Ford was devoting page after page of his Michigan newspaper to battling what he perceived as the threat of Jewish radicalization in America, and dreaming of the day when the country would be cleansed of them. That was just warm-up for the mass hysteria of the 1950s when it was feared that Soviet communists, who had trouble keeping a light bulb functioning properly in Russia, would overrun the United States thanks to a few well-placed “infiltrators.” The Soviet threat has become the Muslim threat.

And to keep the bigots along the Mexican border happy, there’s always the “Brown Peril” to worry about, and goon brigades such as the “Minutemen Project” to meet brown skins with brown shirts. So Peter King, if anything, is a cliché, an elected, and therefore presumably more respectable reflection of our national prejudices. But the difference between him and, say, that radical nut Terry Jones, the Gainesville preacher who warms his religious bigotry to the fire of burning Korans, is just a different address.

If there is a “radicalization” problem in the United States, Muslims had better take a number. They’re vastly outnumbered. The odd attack with a Muslim at the trigger can’t be denied. We are a diverse country. But bullet for bullet, it’s safe to say that Muslims are more law-abiding than their more Christian brothers, at least stat wise.

The Live Column

“In an 11-day period this January,” the Southern Poverty Law Center reports, “a neo-Nazi was arrested headed for the Arizona border with a dozen homemade grenades; a terrorist bomb attack on a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Wash., was averted after police dismantled a sophisticated anti-personnel weapon; and a man who officials said had a long history of antigovernment activities was arrested outside a packed mosque in Dearborn, Mich., and charged with possessing explosives with unlawful intent.” The same Dearborn where Henry Ford once spewed his anti-Semitism. “That’s in addition, the same month, to the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, an attack that left six dead and may have had a political dimension.”

Speaking of firebombing mosques, you may remember—or prefer not to remember—that the largest mosque in our own backyard, the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville, was the target of a firebombing last year, while 60 worshippers were inside. And that it took place during the orchestrated vilification of a prominent member of the Muslim community, Pervez Ahmed, whose nomination to the city’s human rights commission was almost derailed by the hate-mongering of Act for America!, the organization led by Brigitte Gabriel, a Christian Lebanese turned American Islamophobe, and one of Peter King’s advisers.

Just last month in St. Petersburg, Bradley Strott, a 52-year-old whose Christian credentials must surely be impeccable, was arguing religion with another man when, finding out that that man was a Muslim, grabbed him by the shirt and stabbed him in the neck. Naturally, the Florida Legislature never missing an opportunity to fuel intolerance where it could foster it, is joining the Oklahoma bandwagon against Sharia law, which has about as much influence in Florida as the ACLU does in Saudi Arabia. It’s not about sense. It’s about hate.

That, too, should not surprise you. Florida has the distinction of being the forwarding address to 49 hate groups, third-most after California and Texas. These include neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, white nationalists, black separatists, a chapter of the Jewish Defense League and neo-Confederates, though the list has yet to be updated to include the likes of Muslim-bashing Terry Jones.

Let’s not be disproportionate about hate’s constituency, either. We may have a long tradition of bigotry. We also have an equally long tradition of justice and fairness and clear-eyed denunciations of the worst in human impulses. Peter King is merely a reminder that radicals don’t always wear white hoods and burn crosses in grassy yards. They also wear ties, pander to the media and hold congressional hearings.

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23 Responses for “Peter King’s Muslim McCarthyism”

  1. Jenn Kuiper says:

    “The whole is other than the sum of its parts.”–Kurt Koffka.

    Yes, individuals should strive for perfection always and call out those who are being hypocritical; however, let’s not judge any institution based solely on one or a few of its members, for we are all imperfect.


  2. dlf says:

    No one is saying we should judge all groups by a couple bad apples. I would not assume the whole Muslim world was bad based on 9-11, Fort Hood shooting or the USS Cole bombers. Nor would I expect the Muslim world to judge all Americans on the current wars or any other perceived negative action. My point is we were giving a picture of a Muslim woman wearing either a Niqab or Burqa with more make up then one would expect and a caption “what are you looking at” and expected to not remember 9-11, Fort Hood or the USS Cole killings. My remark “chick” may have been out of line and not political correct. But I do remember; Flagler Live tossing words like “well heeled teabaggers, “union haters” which may not be political correct and hateful, but again ,ii is OK for the left do do this ,no one else has the right to be political incorrect.. I would remind all, we live in the USA and may speak our minds, we have not fallen under government rule yet.


  3. William says:

    Kevin, you can “write” screed upon screed to your heart’s content. I generally read only the first line or two, that is all the time I’m willing to waste on your narrow and intransigent belief system. You believe what you believe, facts be damned, because what’s preached to you from the pulpit and Faux “News” panders to your particular psychosis. Cool. Live your life in your bubble, continue to “write” many words that say very little, your RedState buddies will love you for it. And be shocked on the day you find out who your true enemies are.
    “I will turn your face to Alabaster
    When you find your servant is your master” –The Police, Wrapped around your Finger
    Bad-mouth me all you want, it doesn’t matter to me. Clearly we have a very different ideological perspective, and you will never, ever convince me that 99% of what you say isn’t bullshit. But never pretend to think you know me. You don’t. And you understand even less.
    You see, like yourself, I have changed since the Notebooks days. I’ve become more disgusted with painfully blatant stupidity and much less likely to turn the other cheek. One of the many differences between you and I is, while I view having become a smaller person with regret, you wear it as a badge of honor. So now I’m off, I have no more time to waste on you. Be well.

    Now for those of you who enjoy a little reading:
    (actually a clean post, believe it or not)

    ” The thing about terrorists is that there’s ones you support and there’s ones you don’t. You may be all for the rights of the Palestinians, but when some non-Israeli from Gaza commits violence against Israel, that’s terrorism. In Libya, you can sure as hell bet the Gaddafi regime considers the violence against it terrorism. They are merely the terrorists we in the United States happen to like. Yes, terrorists can become an army in a war against a corrupt government or an occupying power. But they’re still terrorists until they take over. Like, you know, the colonists who fought the American Revolution.”

    My point goes back to the question I posited in an earlier comment on this thread. If the King hearings are to have any air of legitimacy, if they are an honest examination of terrorism and not an overt Islamophobic witch-hunt, should they not include these facts in their investigation?

    Just because they didn’t yell “God is great” before committing their despicable acts does not negate the findings of DHS, FBI, ATF and SPLC, that many of the perpetrators were fundamentalist Christians.

    What also goes unsaid is the question of motive. Why would they want to kill us? Could it possibly have something to do with the fact that we’ve been killing their men, women, and children by the millions for centuries? By “we” I mean Western Civilization and the Catholic Church in general, and the United States in particular. Is it feasible that our foreign policy of democracy at gunpoint is not well received? Might it be our stubborn determination to lend undying support to Israel, who commits flagrant crimes against humanity using American made weaponry, while disobeying all UN resolutions against it? Are they tired of having their lands occupied by a foreign power? I can’t speak for the rest of you, but if a foreign power were occupying one inch of American soil, I know what I’d be doing. That’s right, I’d be a terrorist.

    But, as I’ve often enough stated, this is just another distraction, another wedge issue to keep us fighting among ourselves, the new shiny thing that keeps us from focusing on the fact that we are being robbed blind by the masters. 80% of Americans share only 7% of the total financial wealth.
    Now THAT’S a congressional hearing I could wholly support, to include arrests, trials and prison time.


  4. BW says:

    This is an excellent article. I lived in a region of the country on 9/11 that immediately blamed Muslims and targeted anyone resembling a Muslim. Two people that worked with me were immediately in fear while worrying about their family still living in Pakistan at the time. I, for one, blame the individuals who made the choices they made that brought and continue to bring harm to same many. I don’t believe in blaming the institution itself. Although I am a Catholic (and take great offense to the comments posted by others here), I do not fear or hate Muslims or the Islamic religion. In fact, I have admiration for Islam and Muslims. Their discipline and dedication to prayer life as well as their dedication to core values are things to aspire to.

    There is a movement within this country to gain following through fear. Fear is a powerful mobilizer, but it it has been used throughout history not for bringing good but rather destruction. “Be not afraid” was spoken by Jesus Himself, but so many Christians allow themselves to be guided by politicians spreading a message of fear. Individuals like McCarthy like fear for personal gain. It back-fired, but after destroying a great deal of lives. Other individuals and groups used fear to gather support for their agendas which promised “better things” and left destruction that is beyond imagination.

    We can not appreciate the lives of those in the Middle East. The aftermath in Afghanistan when their country was destroyed by the Soviet invasion and the result of that today. Those who fled for safety with lives torn apart and reduced to living in camps. We need to look no further than those places to truly understand why any promise of hope could mislead so many to do the unthinkable. Heck, we even seem to demonize those within our own country who are less fortunate or who have fallen on hard times. That is not the greatness of our country. The greatness of our country are the true silent majority. The ones who truly care, defend the innocent, and look out for their neighbors.

    Don’t be led by fear.


  5. kevin says:


    You, as well as certain others, are never expected to answer anything I write because you are cowards. Calling what I say “screed” is just your way to back out of addressing the specific points I’ve often stuck your nose in. Trust me, I have grown to learn most of you cannot be made to accept any point I make. In doing so you would legitimize me, if only to the smallest degree, something hate-filled (regarding Christians, conservatives, white people, etc.) common sense lacking people would rather die while lying about than admit to. I write what I do mostly to just put it out there to keep you cognitively on your toes.

    BTW, what has Fox Business News have to do with my comments? Again, please support your false connections with an example and validate your claims. Of course you can’t, it’s a fucking business channel! It’s just lie, upon lie, upon lie, trying to make others believe what you say about them seem true, though you have not viewed whatever lie it is your spewing. It’s pathetic given that you probably represent yourself as a decent person yet speak and act the way you do when using the anonymity of the keyboard although you are in good company here with most of the others.


  6. Hazmat says:

    @Montana: The Catholic Church, based an ocean away in Vatican City, has followers in the US who try to influence policy which effect Americans outside of their congregations. The Catholic Church hierarchy tries to shield the abusing priests from being prosecuted in the US legal system. If King gave the same energy to those activities, he would risk offending his constituents.


  7. Outsider says:

    Actually William, I took my head OUT of the sand and read the Koran; it made me want to put my head back in it. It made Bill Maher call the Koran “a hate filled book.”


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