Given the enormous problems besetting the U.S. these days and the need for Congress to address them, the hearings being convened by Representative Peter King tomorrow into the perceived threat of homegrown Muslim radicalism would seem to be an unwelcome distraction.
Or are they? Becoming curious about what might lay behind the right-wing New York Republican's insistence that there is a large and growing threat, I burned a few hours searching and cross-checking databases to see how many terror incidents in the U.S. since September 11, 2001 can be attributed to homegrown Muslims.
What I found was this:
Of 62 incidents considered to be acts of terrorism carried out or attempted on U.S. soil since that dark day, some 28 involved Muslims or Muslim sympathizers, or 45 percent of the total, while 16 of the 28 incidents involved homegrown Muslims, or 25 percent of the total. (Click here for a list of the incidents.)
Sixteen incidents still might be considered a worrisome number even allowing that some of the plots, most infamously that hatched by seven clueless Miami men who didn't even have bus fare to get to Chicago to blow up the Sears Tower, were amateurish in the extreme and some were the result of FBI entrapment; in fact, in one case federal agents put together a terror plot from scratch and delivered it to naive jihadist wannabes.
No matter the number of incidents, what may lurk behind them is not King's motivation for calling the hearings. After all, 25 of the 62 overall incidents, or 40 percent, involved political, religious and social extremists of the Caucasian persuasion, and he has no interest in them. Nor does he seem bothered by the irony that he once supported a white terrorist group, the Irish Republican Army, which carried out hundreds, if not thousands, of assassinations and retaliation killings.
Plain and simple, by equating Islam in general with radicals in particular, as he and his ilk have down with sickening frequency since 9/11, make the hearings a witch hunt in the finest tradition of notorious Red-hunting Senator Joe McCarthy in the early 1950s.
And while some of King's Republican colleagues have privately urged him to back off, as well as public admonishments from a wide range of religious leaders, he will not allow his personal jihad to be derailed.Photograph by Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press