Republican Congressman Peter King, jackass:
Rep. Peter King: There are "too many mosques in this country"
New York Rep. Peter King, a prominent House Republican, said there are "too many mosques in this country" in a recent interview with Politico.
"There are too many people sympathetic to radical Islam," King said. "We should be looking at them more carefully and finding out how we can infiltrate them."
When asked to clarify his statement, King did not revise his answer, saying "I think there has been a lack of full cooperation from too many people in the Muslim community."
Congressman King appears to be selective in his desire for the federal government to invade the sanctity of religious worship, as he doesn’t appear to be equally concerned with "infiltrating" non-Muslims'communities and places of worship. If Peter King were concerned about all religious communities that might be harboring terrorists or fomenting crime and violence, he’d be concerned about the Christian Identity movement and the violent organizations it's inspired, such as the Army of God, whose organizational manual is a "how to for abortion-clinic violence. There are other groups like the Phineas Priesthood and even small rural churches in the Ozarks like the one that may have influenced Christian extremist terrorist Eric Rudolph. The Christian ideology of Dominionism is part of a stew of radical ideas that’s helped power the Christian Patriot movement, in which Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and plenty of other lethal terrorists have been deeply involved. So, if Peter King is really concerned about all forms of religious terrorism, he better call for government "infiltration" of churches.
If we’re going to start "infiltrating" mosques and churches, we shouldn’t leave out adherents to the original of the great monotheistic religions. Let’s not forget, one of the most toxic influences on Israel politics was radical Jewish cleric Meir Kahane. Born in New York City, in 1968 Kahane founded a domestic terrorist group known as the Jewish Defense League (JDL), which was still active as recently as 2001, when members tried to blow up a mosque and the office of Arab-American Congressman Darrel Issa. Kahane moved to Israel in 1971, founded a racist party, became a national figure, and was assassinated in 1991. (His killer went on to participate in the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.) The seeds of hate he planted inspired terrorism after his death. In 1994, a JDL member and emigrant to Israel named Baruch Goldstein shot close to 200 Muslims at the Cave of the Patriarchs in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israel has officially outlawed Kahane's political party, but his followers continue to present a serious threat of Jewish terrorism in Israel, and much like the Irish Republican Army, they receive significant funding from supporters in the United States.
So, if Peter King were truly worried about religious terrorism growing here in the US, he would be calling for "infiltration" of not just mosques, but also churches and even synagogues. But based on his record, it appears that Peter King, well, he just has a thing about Muslims. As Think Progress points out, this isn’t the first time King has made outrageous accusations about Muslim communities in the US. Furthermore, from a policy standpoint, it’s not even clear that King’s prescriptions are sound. In Europe and the UK, mosques have often become hotbeds of anti-Americanism and fertile recruiting grounds for terrorists. But in Europe, Muslims are much more marginalized and discriminated against, and thus much less integrated in to society than in the US. American Muslims are more likely to be economically successful than Muslims in the UK, more likely to be afforded full citizenship rights than in Germany or Spain, less likely to be targets of xenophobic political parties than in Denmark or The Netherlands, and far less likely to be residentially segregated and separated from non-Muslims in the society, as is true in most of Europe but especially in France.
We are fortunate that mosques in the U.S. are not the fertile recruiting stations for Jihadis that they are in Europe. But more braying from jackasses like Peter King and Virgil Goode could create an environment where American Muslims feel more alienated and less invested in the safety and security of all Americans. If America is not committed to protecting the liberties of all Americans, not all Americans will remain committed to America.
Like so many Republicans who prattle on about keeping us safe from terrorism (as they do little to catch Osama bin Laden or protect our ports and continue to support the war in Iraq, which is the best recruitment tool the terrorists have), Peter King is playing on fear. Shortly after the attack on the U.S. by Al Qaeda, George W. Bush and the Republicans began invoking memories of 9-11 and fears of terrorism to intimidate opposition, silence dissent and garner votes, an approach they've continued right up to today. Peter King’s cravenness is somewhat more imaginative, since his fear-mongering may lead to a few more sales of his novel Vale of Tears, about a Congressman from Long Island fighting terrorism by...sitting in on meetings or something. It’s apparently not as compelling as Richard Perle’s Hard Line, with such scintillating prose as "[n]ow, he looked at his marriage in much the same way he had examined the intermediate-range missile question." It doesn’t appear to tap in to conservatives’ long tradition of bad writing about sex, like Scooter Libby’s The Apprentice, which includes examples of healthy sexual desire such as scenes about a necrophillic "stag" party or training a girl for prostitution by arranging for her to be raped by a bear. [Man, those Straussians and their weird sexual proclivities!] It doesn’t even appear to have the kitschy raunchiness of Lynne Cheney’s lesbian novel Sisters. No, according to one of the reviews on Amazon, it’s a book about meetings. But King’s novel appears to take a page from the GOP playbook, to th invoke 9-11 and provoke fear. As one of the local newspapers in his district put it, King "brings the fear of terrorism right to Nassau County in his book, as he describes not only what occurred in New York and Washington during September 11 and after, but the possibility of future terrorism not just in New York City, but that terrorists have come out to the Island."
Peter King is doing the same thing with his calls to "infiltrate" mosques: he’s creating and exploiting fear. Fear of terrorists, fear of tolerance, fear of protecting Americans’ First Amendment rights. It’s the basis of Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign, for which King is a prominent advisor. It’s the basis of the GOP’s entire strategy toward the electorate; toss some of them aside (like Muslims), rely on the dead-enders in the Republican base, and try to fool voters not tied closely to the Democrats by scaring the hell out of them. That worked for a while, and it will always be a cynical but effective approach with some voters. But lets hope the fear-mongering is losing its potency, and bigoted jackasses like Peter King are tossed out of office so they can spend more time writing their books.
By the way, if you want a copy of Vale of Tears, prices on Amazon start at the laughably low $1.86.