Critics of the Thursday's hearing accuse King of conducting a McCarthyite witchhunt, flouting the country's principles by targeting a single religion. King's supporters arguing he that has opened an important dialogue long stifled by political correctness. Those divisions carried into the hearing as Democrats denounced the hearing and Republicans supported it.
Democrats argued that extremist threats inside the United States come from all ethnicities, religions, and political persuasions.
Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS) called on King to hold similar hearings on right-wing and antigovernment extremism. Thompson noted that the FBI arrested a suspected white supremacist for the failed bomb plot that allegedly targeted a Martin Luther King Jr. parade in Spokane, Washington, in January.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who is Muslim, testified as a witness and expressed his displeasure that the radicalization hearings focused exclusively on his community. Choking back tears, Ellison spoke of Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a Muslim first responder who died on 9-11 trying to save people at the World Trade Center.
Rep. Paul C. Broun (R-GA), however, thanked King for holding the hearing and said the only way to protect the country is follow a lesson he learned in the U.S. Marines: know your enemy. Broun said those enemies are Islamists and jihadists.
Jasser said he hopes the hearing is a “pivot point” to create a public-private partnership to push a modern and reformist Islam that’s comfortable with American ideals.
♦ Photo of Sheriff Leroy Baca by Neon Tommy/Flickr