Muslim-Bait and Switch
Peter King whipped up hysteria about American Muslims. Now he blames the media for it.
It's hard to argue with the argument that Muslims are more targeted, because it's true. Nor does it imply anything nefarious about Muslims or their community leaders in general. That's why, over the course of the hearing, the outrage dissipated.
Which makes you wonder why Republicans didn't frame the problem this way in the first place. Imagine how different the buildup to the hearing would have been if, instead of titling it "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response," King had called it "Al-Qaida's Targeting of the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response."
But King chose the more aggressive path. When he announced the hearings three months ago, he said they would address the "radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism." Homegrown, not planted. Radicalization of the American Muslim community, not radicalization of a few targeted miscreants.
Now he stands before a microphone and accuses the media of having whipped up "mindless hysteria." And in the next breath, he adds, "If these were just incidental cases … why has no national Muslim leader spoken out and denounced what happened in Minneapolis?"
Poor King. He wants to stop generalizing about Muslims. It's just hard to kick the habit.
Correction, March 11, 2011: The author originally called Keith Ellison the only Muslim member of Congress. That was true when Ellison was elected. But since then, a second Muslim, Andre Carson (D-Ind.), has been elected to Congress. (Return to corrected sentence.)
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.
Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.