Sunlight Shining Through Cloud

Peter King. Joseph McCarthy. What’s In The Name?

Posted on: March 9, 2011

Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) held hearings back in the 1950’s during which he tried to save America from the clutches of Communism.  He alleged that Commies occupied positions of power in the government, military, industry, Hollywood and even the entire Democratic Party.  In the process, he ruined the lives and careers of people without so much as a lick of proof.  The term, “McCarthy-ism” stands today to mean ‘demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusation.’

History is in danger of being repeated.

Representative Peter King (R-NY) will hold hearings beginning Thursday on the radicalization of Muslims in America.  These hearings will either remove the Islamic façade from criminal acts, or stereotype all Muslims as terrorists.  How these hearings are conducted will be the subject of examination by Americans now the wiser for our experience with McCarthy.

Current-day Islamaphobia brings to mind words I heard spoken almost a decade ago:

Thank you all very much for your hospitality. We’ve just had a wide-ranging discussion on the matter at hand. Like the good folks standing with me, the American people were appalled and outraged at last Tuesday’s attacks, and so were Muslims all across the world.

Both Americans, our Muslim friends and citizens, tax-paying citizens, and Muslim nations were just appalled and could not believe what we saw on our TV screens. These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith, and it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that.

The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Quran itself: “In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil, for that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.”

The face of terrorist is not the true face of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace, they represent evil and war.

When we think of Islam, we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race, out of every race.

America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country.

The Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads, and they need to be treated with respect.

In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect. Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear covering must not be intimidated in America. That’s not the America I know; that’s not the America I value.

I’ve been told that some fear to leave; some don’t want to go shopping for their families; some don’t want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they’re afraid they’ll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America.

Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don’t represent the best of America. They represent the worst of humankind. And they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.

And it’s a great country; it’s a great country because (we) share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth. And it is my honor to be meeting with leaders who feel just the same way I do. They are outraged; they’re sad. They love America just as much as I do.

And I want to thank you all for giving me a chance to come by, and may God bless us all.  Thank you.

President George W. Bush

Address at The Islamic Center of Washington

September 17, 2001  –  Washington, D.C.

1 Response to "Peter King. Joseph McCarthy. What’s In The Name?"

I think it’s apples and oranges, myself Fred.

McCarthy’s methods were flawed, and his legacy isn’t necessarily always accurate. He was painted as a fear-monger, while I believe at his core he had identified a very real threat to our society(He just didn’t know/have the wherewithal to properly address the threat without risking the kind of blowback he got from the press and Hollywood). He was incapable of fending off the salvos of the press and was portrayed as a paranoid lunatic, when in fact what he was was an unskilled communicator who didn’t necessarily have the skill-set to identify the threat without implicating an entire industry.

While true that some people were wrongly black-balled and otherwise damaged, the actual threat he saw on the horizon was quite real, and with the luxury of hindsight, we can see that radical socialists and communists indeed found refuge in Hollywood, and bode their time until their beliefs and philosophies became chic among show-biz circles.

One can hardly argue that the cause of socialism found traction in liberal Hollywood, and that people are now quite outspoken in promoting their subversive causes without any fear of reprisal.

The debate over this is kind of moot because it evolved into a debate about morality, and of course we all know that morality was a shifting landscape in the McCarthy era.

In the case of Peter King, a common theme has emerged among the libs: They are saying it is unjust and unfair that we are singling out one specific group(Muslims), a small minority in our country and generalizing about the terrorists as Muslims and thus also declaring that all Muslims must support terror.

But that is not the genesis of this. The facts demand that we not ignore them to our own demise. Muslims are a minority in this country mathematically, yet they represent the majority among the terrorist community. That is not an indictment of the good Muslims, it is a basic truth about the fundamentalist Islamic terror movement; They are comprised of people of a certain Muslim persuasion.

The question Peter King raises is a troubling one. How do we identify the process of radicalization of Muslims in this country while also not trampling on people’s constitutional rights to practice their religion without any interference by the government?

In much the same manner that we sought to infiltrate the enemy camp during the cold war, it seems espionage and clandestine operations might be the only tools we have that may help us achieve that objective without denigrating people of the Muslim faith who have done nothing wrong.

Before September 11th, we’d never really been asked as a society to acknowledge the uglier side of intelligence-gathering, employed as a means of protecting the nation from foreign threats. Post-9/11, We were forced to turn our attention inward, toward activities within our borders. Hence, we arrive at the here and now.

Now we see a generation of young people who are not allowed the luxury of naivete’ where matters of national security are concerned. It’s sad that we are asking people to keep an eye on their neighbors if they notice odd behaviors that might clue us into some emerging threat. It certainly must make Muslims feel uneasy and a bit neurotic knowing that simply by living their life every day they might be triggering the suspicion of people around them. It’s not fair, but for now it seems to be their unspoken burden to bear.

It might not seem right, but this situation is the fault of the Islamic extremists who have perpetrated so much evil against so many around the globe, and we must not allow this to be distorted into some kind of wave of Muslim intolerance. It is part of our responsibility to be diligent, to not allow ourselves to be blindsided as on 9/11.

I hope that Peter King is thoughtful and completely honest and open with everybody about what his motives are, and I hope he expresses throughout the process that this is not an effort to taint all people of the Muslim faith.

And I hope Muslims will delineate themselves from the terror elements that do exist in this world, and through cooperation and openness, they can perhaps gain the trust of the American people.

I hope they do not find that a burdensome thing to endure.

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