Pushing back against Pete King’s bigotry

PUSHING BACK AGAINST PETE KING’S BIGOTRY…. Months in the making, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) will kick off his anti-Muslim hearings on Capitol Hill this week, exploring what he sees as “the radicalization” of the Muslim-American community.

To defend the purpose of his stunt, King argues hearings are necessary for national security purposes — the Muslim-American mainstream knows of dangerous people, but refuse to come forward. “When I meet with law enforcement, they are constantly telling me how little cooperation they get from Muslim leaders,” King said when announcing the hearings. He repeated this yesterday, insisting law enforcement officials do not “get the level of cooperation that they need” from the Muslim-American community.

The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming: “American Muslims have been vigilant in confronting radical elements, ‘increasingly engaging the war of ideas being waged within Islam.’ As Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) pointed out, ‘about a third of all foiled al-Qaida-related plots in the U.S. relied on support or information provided by members of the Muslim community.’ … In fact, a recent study found that ‘many mosque leaders had put significant effort into countering extremism by building youth programs, sponsoring anti violence forums and scrutinizing teachers and texts.'”

With this in mind, it was heartening to see the Obama White House help with the pushback against bigotry.

The White House is pushing a message of religious tolerance ahead of this week’s congressional hearing on Islamic radicalism, which has sparked protests on grounds it unfairly singles out Muslims as potential terrorists.

President Barack Obama sent his deputy national security adviser, Denis McDonough, on Sunday to a Washington-area mosque known for its cooperation with the FBI and its rejection of the al-Qaida brand of Islam. […]

Speaking to an interfaith forum of Muslims, Christians, Jews and other faiths, McDonough, the president’s point-man on countering violent extremism, was clear: “We’re all Americans.” […]

McDonough said Muslim Americans are not the problem, but part of the solution.

Underscoring the seriousness with which the administration is taking this, the White House was quick to distribute a copy of McDonough’s remarks to reporters yesterday. The point wasn’t subtle: the president’s team sought to remind Americans that “we will not stigmatize or demonize entire communities because of the actions of a few…. In the United States of America, we don’t practice guilt by association.”

McDonough’s speech coincided with protests against King’s hearings in New York.

In New York, 500 people demonstrated near Times Square to protest the hearings and to call on Mr. King to expand his witness list to include other groups. […]

As the Times Square demonstrators held up placards declaring “Today I am a Muslim too,” Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, and Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who is a co-founder of a project to develop an Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero, addressed the crowd.

“To single out Muslim Americans as the source of homegrown terrorism and not examine all forms of violence motivated by extremist belief — that, my friends, is an injustice,” Rabbi Schneier said.

Expect the hearings to generate an enormous amount of attention on Thursday. Also expect King’s argument to fall apart under scrutiny.