Many American Muslims are fearful about today’s hearing with Congressman Peter T. King (R-NY) presiding. But New York Times op/ed contributor Akbar Akmed, in “Fair to Muslims?, feels the hearings are a great opportunity to educate Americans about his community’s diversity and faith.
We all can hope fervently that Akmed’s vision comes about. But there are a great many people, including myself, who sense that Rep. King intends to conduct a witch hunt and seize every opportunity to portray American Muslims as both hiding and supporting Islamist extremism.
I agree that the King hearing could be a great educational opportunity. But I don’t think that’s the plan. I’m in the camp that thinks the hearings will be more like the witch hunts Joseph McCarthy conducted. Yes, it’s an educational opportunity, but the students have to have open minds and be ready and willing to learn. And I don’t see that happening. I fear the hearings will further divide the Muslim community from the rest of America, and there’s been too much of that already. Bigotry, racism, and xenophobia toward Muslims has become dangerously widespread, and I don’t expect these hearings to improve the situation in any way. At best, we can hope the hearings do no harm.