KING HEARINGS QUIETLY CAUSE GOP DIVISIONS…. We’re still about 48 hours away from House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) kicking off his anti-Muslim hearings on Capitol Hill this week, exploring what he sees as the “radicalization” of the Muslim-American community. But the fact that King is pushing forward with this offensive effort continues to cause controversy, even among Republicans.

Politico asked House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office for his reaction, and the Speaker’s spokesperson would only say, “Chairman King is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.” That’s it. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) didn’t want to say anything at all.

It’s a reminder that even in some GOP circles, King’s anti-Muslim bigotry is discomforting.

On the other hand, another House Republican leader offered a more enthusiastic endorsement.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the highest-ranking Jewish member of Congress, is squarely behind King as he takes shots from civil libertarians and religious groups over his decision to target one group in his investigation of the causes of terrorism.

“Chairman King works tirelessly to ensure that our homeland is secure, and following the tragic murders of U.S. soldiers in Germany by a radical Islamist, the Fort Hood murders committed by a radical Al Qaeda sympathizer and the recent arrest in Texas of a Saudi student planning jihad, this is certainly a relevant topic for committee consideration,” Cantor spokeswoman Laena Fallon said.

Hmm. The perpetually-confused House Majority Leader endorsed an investigation into the “radicalization” of Muslim Americans, and in offering a defense, he pointed to exactly one Muslim American, and two foreign Muslims.

By that reasoning, if I offered Cantor a list of white American Christian men, all of whom have committed acts of terror in recent years — Byron Williams, Joe Stack, John Patrick Bedell, Richard Poplawski, Jim David Adkisson — the Majority Leader would certainly consider white American Christian male terrorism a relevant topic for committee consideration, right?

On a related note, the New York Times has a terrific editorial today, slamming King for a baseless “show trial.” It explained, “Not much spreads fear and bigotry faster than a public official intent on playing the politics of division. On Thursday, Representative Peter King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is scheduled to open a series of hearings that seem designed to stoke fear against American Muslims. His refusal to tone down the provocation despite widespread opposition suggests that he is far more interested in exploiting ethnic misunderstanding than in trying to heal it.”

Postscript: Just as aside, we now have House Republicans targeting abortion rights, access to health care, Muslim Americans, and domestic priorities, but the elusive GOP plan to create jobs is still nowhere to be seen.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.