King Witch Hunter

I wonder, will you also call Jalat Hamdani, whose son Mohammad Salman Hamdani was an emergency medical technician (EMT) who died in the World Trade Centre on 9/11? Will the thousands of Muslims that serve in our military also testify? Will you ask them to defend their loyalty to this country? When would you like to schedule their testimonies: before, or after, the leg amputations resulting from IEDs that have injured many of them during their tours of duty? - Seema Jilani

The US has done little over the decades to diminish its reputation as home to reactionary ideas. Beyond dispute, many outstanding progressive thinkers exist in America, but a culture that allowed its president to openly endorse torture, in the process reversing one of the key tenets of modern civilisation, reveals the predominance of a mindset that is heavily tipped against the progressive. Conservative ideas no matter how deranged - as in Philip Johnson and Intelligent Design or Lawrence Mead and Workfare - have a purchase in US society like few other countries in the West. Beaming out from deep within American society there is a projection of conservative religious Neanderthals coupled to conservative political troglodytes. Between them they hate all and sundry not as revanchist, reactionary or retarded as themselves. Fertile ground for persecutionist zeal.

Against such a backdrop there is nothing startling that an anti-Muslim witch hunt which parallels the right wing McCarthy terror of the 1950s should be officially sanctioned under the title of ‘Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response’. What might be a surprise to some is that Peter King is in its avant garde.

King, a Long Island Republican Party Congressman, as we recall, is a long time associate of the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. Despite a history - which he unsuccessfully tries to cloud in secrecy - steeped in the type of political violence King professes to abhor and promises to eradicate, Adams these days works at recasting himself in a radically different role. He has revised his past so as to portray himself as a human rights activist. Yet as Brian Rowan wrote recently ‘for all Adams' denials of IRA membership, he was part of the war before he was part of the peace.’ Now the commitment of Adams to human rights might be subject to the same ridicule as his disavowal of an IRA past if, on the international stage, he fails to move against King’s persecution of US Muslims which echoes the treatment meted out to the Irish community in Britain during the dark days of the 1970s. The guiding legal ethic then was innocent until proven Irish.

Ironically, for all his pontificating against violence, the case has been made that without the IRA wind in his sails King’s political career might never have left the port of obscurity. King told Ed Moloney in 2005 that ‘Gerry Adams made me respectable’. In a sense Adams, albeit unintentionally, created the bigot than now stalks US Muslims.

The kingdom of good King Peter is the House Homeland Security Committee of which he is the chairperson. Last week this committee set in motion congressional hearings on US Muslims in a professed bid to root out home-grown terrorism.

At the heart of the Committee’s case is that US Muslims are ‘uncooperative with authorities.’ Although as Seema Jilani points out in her Guardian piece:

the new study by the Triangle Centre on Terrorism and Homeland Security… found that tips from Muslim Americans provided information that helped authorities thwart terrorist plots in 48 of 120 cases.

Quoting from the same report Jilani said ‘Muslim Americans have been so concerned about extremists in their midst that they have turned in people who turned out to be undercover informants.’ In this she finds support from C. Dixon Osburn of The Law and Security Program of Human Rights First who refutes the non-cooperation with the police line. It also challenges a further charge by King that 80% of religious leaders in mosques are radicalized. Osburn points out that the police and FBI disagree. Likewise the Los Angeles Times reported that ‘research by two North Carolina universities shows Muslims have been the top source of tips that have thwarted terrorism plots in the U.S.’

Facts, pesky things, they just can’t be allowed to impede a good old witch hunt where the loons are set loose to hunt whomever is labelled the outsider.

King has for a long time ranted against Muslims in the US. He was therefore a hostile witness long before he took his seat at the congressional hearings. He believes there are too many Mosques in the US. There probably are but then atheists like myself are prone to think that way. But at least we also think there are too many churches, chapels, synagogues, and whatever other type of temple people of faith worship in. King targets the Mosque alone. He won’t dare tell us there are too many synagogues. The Jewish Lobby has the power to roast him over the Holocaust spit were he to venture down that road.

Seema Jilani who delivered a blistering critique of King in the Guardian is a US Muslim. She is far removed from any image we may have of a theocrat intent on pressing home domination theology, hanging gays, stoning adulteses or threatening to behead cartoonists.

Radical Islam is, indeed, a threat – mostly to us Muslims, but it will not be conquered by your humiliating McCarthy-esque public defamations … The biggest threat to this nation is not radical Islam; it is you, hurling the malignancy of prejudice even deeper into the recesses of the American psyche, for your own gratuitous political gain … Let us call this what it is: bigotry draped in the American flag – nothing more than a fear-mongering attempt, drenched in political theatrics, laced with reactionary hatred, and deceptively packaged in an incredulous label of national security. Same as it ever was.

Bigotry draped in the English flag is a phenomenon the Irish have experience of. This morning Martin McGuinness was scheduled to breakfast with King. Let’s see if memory will prevail over forgetting and those who were the making of Peter King will seek to be his breaking.


  1. Excellent post mo cara, I agree King wouldnt have the balls to attack the Jews or the black communities, kind of like the nazis in the late 30.s blame all our troubles on the weakest minority,another bigot using minorities to advance his political career .

  2. It's kind of sad because he showed some real courage in supporting the republican cause back in the 80's when it was not very popular to do so. He took a nice stand against that clown Cardinal Cooke back in 85. Also did some great work in assisting ex prisoners fight deportation. But 9/11 did something to him. He has seemed totally obsessed with it for the past 9 and a half years.
    And interestingly he hasn't been back to Ireland since.

  3. I am not being picky here, but when it comes to Jews, language is very important and will be exploited by racist scumbags. There is nothing wrong with a Jewish lobby nor that of any ethnic group.

    Sadly what you have in the USA is a powerful Pro Zionist lobby and that is something different, as many Jewish people do not support that lobby as it basically boils down to supporting Israel right or wrong.

    One does not have to be pro Palestinian to understand this has totally distorted US politics, and infected the US governments whole take on the middle east.

    What Peter King says openly today about Islam, is what much of the US population has come to believe post 9/11, along with 99 percent of senior democrats and republicans.

  4. In defense of Congressman Peter King, he was one of the very few politicians back then who was responsible for highlighting the injustices taken place in the north of Ireland when it wasn’t politically correct to do so. The majority of the other politician turned a blind eye and their backs on what was going on over there and took the side of the British government regardless.

    It was Peter King who challenged the U.S. media’s biased reporting on the “troubles” and he helped to educate them about the corrupt RUC, the collusion between the security forces, UDR and loyalists. He made sure the press highlighted the murder of innocent Catholics by the UVF and British soldiers and brought attention to the civil and human rights abuses of Irish Catholics taking place in the north of Ireland.

    Peter King helped to make it possible to get hearings in Washington, DC on Irish issues of concern to Irish Americans and made it possible for Irish civil rights activists from Derry, Belfast, etc., to get a visa to come to America and testify before the Congressional Committee on Irish affairs. So, in all fairness to Peter King, regardless of the flack he got over the years from his peers in Washington, DC and the media for his stand on Irish freedom, he stood by Ireland’s cause for self-determination and he still doesn’t apologize for it even under fire now from the press.

  5. Helen,

    that is what makes his current stance so objectionable. After speaking out against the targeting of a particular community he is now targeting one. He seems to have joined the ranks of the bigots he spoke out against. I am sure to the ordinary Joe Muslim he must come across as Paisley did to nationalists.

  6. AM

    I can understand the Muslim community being concerned about such hearings, but King has made it quite clear that he is not targeting the entire Muslim community, but rather trying to bring attention to the fact that there are extremely dangerous elements within the Muslim communities who are trying to recruit among decent Muslims to murder innocent American civilians because they consider us, and anyone outside the Muslim faith, "infidels". I believe these Islamic fundamentalists/zealots see Christians, Judaism and secularism as forces combining to destroy Islam?

    I don’t believe King is on a “witch hunt” against Islam per se, but he is against Islamic religious zealots who are out to destroy not just America, but anyone they see as “infidels”.

    Just the fact that these Islamic fundamentalists are willing to resort to violence and cold blooded murder of innocent people in order to enforce others not to debate and discuss their belief that Muhammad should not be depicted, because such depictions are close to idol worship, should be a major concern to everyone.

    In the interim, King needs to make sure that he conducts these hearings in a totally democratic, inoffensive manner, which will hopefully bring about an awareness and understanding that these Islamic fundamentalist have no safe haven within the decent, law abiding Muslim communities.

  7. Helen,

    I think this is only going to work out in one way. He is making a cursory nod in the direction of societal rights while he actually goes about labeling and targeting a whole community. He has made assertions about the community which are demonstrably untrue and which have been challenged by law enforcement agencies. If we look at the terrorism of the right wing groups in the US there is no similar hearings going on. They are trying to recruit decent Americans to their cause.

    I am aware of and cannot abide by the political Islamicists who seek to impose a theocracy everywhere. Society of course needs protected from them. But to focus on a group as King is doing, is likely to increase the size of the pool the fish swims in.

    'Just the fact that these Islamic fundamentalists are willing to resort to violence and cold blooded murder of innocent people in order to enforce others not to debate and discuss their belief that Muhammad should not be depicted, because such depictions are close to idol worship, should be a major concern to everyone.'

    It was a major concern to me. The Blanket featured the Danish cartoons in opposition to that totalitarian demand. But at the same time it defended Muslims from the same theocrats. That type of thing should be a major concern but King's persecution should also be a major concern.

    'In the interim, King needs to make sure that he conducts these hearings in a totally democratic, inoffensive manner.'

    But that is not the purpose of his hearings otherwise he would not hold them.