Blatant hucksterism

Congressman Peter King (R, New York), who became Chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee when Republicans became the majority in the House in January, has decided to hold hearings about terrorism.

He has not, however, decided to look into all terrorism. Congressman King has decided that the hearings of his committee will focus exclusively on “the radicalization of Muslims.”

This is interesting. According to the Justice Department’s own statistics, when acts of terrorism are analyzed by group, acts of terrorism committed by Muslims ranks 11th. This ranks Muslims lower than neo-Nazi groups, white supremacist groups, and skinhead extremist groups, among others.

Given the facts, it is evidently the goal of Congressman King to single out for vilification a particular segment of the population based on ethnicity or religious faith, rather than seriously examine the subject of terrorism.

Aside from the fact that numerous law enforcement officials (including the Sheriff of Los Angeles County) have pointed out that seven out of the last 11 attempted acts of terrorism by Muslims have been thwarted by members of the Muslim community alerting law enforcement authorities, these hearings violate what most Americans like to believe are basic American precepts. Specifically, these hearings violate the concepts of fundamental fairness, due process of law, and freedom from the presumption of guilt by association.

It is difficult to see why Congressman King should suddenly have a vendetta against Muslims. Another possibility is that Congressman King would like to get his name into the headlines and doesn’t much care who he scapegoats to do so, as long as it isn’t people who are politically powerful enough to fight back. Unfortunately, Congressman King is not the first Washington politician to use hearings against nearly defenseless prey to secure headlines for himself.

One evening in the winter of 1951, the dinner companion of a United States Senator who had recently been voted the “least effective” by his peers tried to cheer up his friend with a suggestion. He suggested to this Senator that he focus on a single issue and make it his own by publicizing it to the greatest extent possible.

The Communist menace, for example, had been in the news quite a bit that year. The name of the Senator who listened to this suggestion was Joseph McCarthy.

Space does not permit a complete review of McCarthy’s depredations here. Suffice it to say that John Stewart Service, Owen Lattimore, and many others were smeared by McCarthy’s reckless charges. In the end, McCarthy’s hunger for publicity hastened his own downfall.

When McCarthy achieved his goal of having his hearings televised, the unblinking eye of the camera brought the hearings into America’s living rooms where people could see the emptiness of his charges.

Also, journalist Edward R. Murrow, through his CBS television program, “See It Now,” was instrumental in exposing McCarthy to the American people.

I believe that the vast majority of Americans today are far too intelligent to be taken in by such blatant hucksterism.

Paul Schwietering is a resident of Union Township.

Paul Schwietering