Now granted, the standard for insanity in the political arena was set fairly high in 2010, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that the first few days of 2011 have featured the sad spectacle of Representative Peter King’s new scheme to save America from terrorism. King is the new Republican chairman of the Homeland Security committee, and he knows what’s what. For instance, he knows that all Muslims are radicals and that nuance is apparently for cowards and quitters.
It is disturbing to listen to Representative Peter King, the incoming chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. He has announced plans to hold a hearing next month into what he calls the “radicalization of the American Muslim community.” Mr. King, a New York Republican, is no stranger to bluster, but his sweeping slur on Muslim citizens is unacceptable.
Thus spoke the New York Times editorial and it is undeniable, categorizing all Muslim citizens as radicals is unacceptable. And King’s outburst is nothing new. In 2004, he managed to exclaim that 85% of mosques in America are led by extremist imams, and that American Muslims were reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement. Sweeping statements and random numbers pulled out of his, ehm, hat. Classic. Call me cynical, but I rather suspect that the howl of outrage from his own ranks would have been greater – or indeed, would have existed – had he instead somehow insinuated that all Caucasians are Nazis. (Or that women should wear corsets to support their spines as they are less suited than men to walk on two legs – oh wait, let’s not go there, actually…) Yes, all Caucasians not being Nazis and all Muslims not being terrorists is a tired old argument, but the reason it’s a tired old argument is that blundering simpletons like King makes it necessary for it to be said over and over and over again.
While the editorial rightly ponders how King, who acted as an intermediary during the Troubles in Northern Ireland and backed Clinton’s mission to protect Muslims in the Balkans can now display such bone-headedness, one must look elsewhere for another astoundingly embarrassing fact.
From the end of the 1970s till shortly after 9/11, Peter King was a vocal supporter of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, who fought a long and bloody terror campaign to achieve a united Ireland against the wishes of the Ulster loyalist community. King socialized with known IRA leaders. He spoke at meetings held by Irish Northern Aid or Noraid, an Irish-American fundraising organization suspected of channeling funds to the coffers of the IRA. “We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry,” he told an Irish Republican rally in 1982. Nobody knows why. There is no obvious reason why King should suddenly choose to support the IRA. All we do know is that King was a very vocal and very unashamed supporter of one of the world’s most lethal and enduring terrorist organizations at a time when its campaign of bombings and murders reached its horrific zenith.
Thus, we are presented here with two issues. Firstly, that King feels his new job as the chairman for the Homeland Security committee chiefly consists of stigmatizing all American Muslims. Secondly, King’s jaw-dropping hypocrisy. It has been pointed out that King could be facing a life-sentence if his support for the IRA pre-9/11 were treated as it would have been these days.
Let’s be fair though. One does hear stories about people who are for instance struck by lightning, causing a sudden and disturbing change of personality. However, King does not appear to have suffered such a sad fate and thus must present another explanation for his sudden decision to support the IRA, his sudden decision to withdraw that support and his sudden inability to rely on nuance – a skill he must have used when deciding to back Clinton’s intervention in the Balkans, for instance. But there is no excuse. Rather, political expediency comes to mind. King’s flirt with the anti-imperialist terrorist chic, though lived out with all the gusto of a fiery convert, fizzled out in the wake of 9/11. Suddenly, the party was over for King, and he had to disentangle himself even from Caucasian terrorists who identified as Catholics. Could we imagine King suddenly deciding to support Hamas instead? No, not really.
He did disentangle himself from the IRA, so Bush Jr. made him an anti-terrorism advisor – and why not indeed? King had often socialized with terrorists, spoken at their events and had enjoyed a pint or two with them during his visits to Belfast. King had even suffered the martyrdom of full body cavity searches at airports for his new faith, and had enjoyed the dubious honor of being ejected from a Belfast courtroom by a judge who thundered that he was “an obvious collaborator with the IRA.” Surely such a man is able to understand the terrorist mind better than most?
A less optimistic outlook might be that the new chairman for the Homeland Security committee is a terrorist supporter – excuse me, was a terrorist supporter up until recently. Totally against it now, of course.
King’s antics make a mockery of the seriousness not only of violence in Ireland, but of the very current threat posed by Muslim radicals and the horrible situation that American Muslims find themselves in as a result. His cavorting with IRA leaders and subsequent rebirth as a stout defender of democracy, law and order and his idiotic pontifications on the nature of the Muslim community reminds me of a particularly impressionable teenager demanding to be taken deadly serious every time he or she had a new fad – except this is serious.
To put things in perspective, the IRA murdered nearly 2000 people during its terror campaign – the equivalent death toll in America per capita would be roughly 350,000 people. And King had drinks with these guys.
I cannot imagine, in heaven or on earth, how anybody can have confidence in King as a defender of America against terrorism. It’s been jokingly said that it’s easy to tell the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter – you just ask them. In King’s version, perhaps you needn’t even ask them. Just look at the color of their skin. Except in the case of the Wikileaks crowd, who are clearly terrorists who need to be burned at the stake post haste, or something to that effect.
There is another, perhaps even more disturbing issue here. Can you hear it? It’s the deafening silence. The lack of roars of protest from King’s own Republican ranks calling for him to step down immediately from his post and perhaps, I’m just throwing it out there, leave the GOP in disgrace? That deafening silence has been there for a few years now. I wonder how long we will have to wait.