The Extent of Pandering-ization in the American Political Community

What’s causing me a good bit of non-specific discomfort about Rep. Peter King’s hearing today ("The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response") is the premise that we should investigate if Muslims are cooperating with law enforcement in the fight against terrorism.  Why isn’t he investigating the cooperation of Baptists, or Buddhists?  Or the Unitarians or the Wiccans or the Scientologists?

Because they didn’t attack America on September 11?  No, they didn’t; a few adherents to a twisted interpretation of Islam did.  But “Muslims” as a group did not, and certainly Muslim Americans didn’t.

First, King has only a handful of anecdotal examples of Muslims not cooperating with the FBI or other law enforcement agencies in investigating homegrown terrorism; certainly nothing to justify this hearing, which could actually have been something constructive if it had been used as an opportunity for Muslims in America to talk about what they really believe.

Second, he’s wrong: research shows that law enforcement’s biggest source of help in fighting domestic terrorism comes from Muslim Americans and Muslim organizations (page 6).

Third, it shows the rest of the world just how stupid we can be at times, and might help Al Qaeda convince a few feeble-minded individuals that America really does hate Muslims.

That’s not to say that no Muslim Americans hate America or sympathize with Al Qaeda; crazy people belong to every religion—religions don’t test for crazy when they you sign up.  But this hearing targets people for suspicion because of their religion, and that’s just not right.

People are not the groups they belong to.  As Harry Reasoner put it, labels only lump me in among people with whom I have one thing in common.  Granted, it’s much easier to stereotype…once you understand that all Irish are drunks, all Mexicans are lazy, all Hindus worship cows, and all Muslims want to kill Americans, then no hard thinking is required.

Daily digest 1

Some news of the day, in easy to swallow bites

A Supreme take on tolerance

One cool thing about retired justices of the Supreme Court is they tell us what they really think about things, like John Paul Stevens dropping his impartiality to talk about the community-center-with-a-mosque-near-ground-zero affair that we discussed back in August.

He said that a nation built by people who fled religious persecution “should understand why American Muslims should enjoy the freedom to build their places of worship wherever permitted by local zoning laws.”

(snip)

He called the [National Japanese American Memorial] “a powerful reminder of the fact that ignorance — that is to say, fear of the unknown — is the source of most invidious prejudice.”

Princess Leia inspires boy—to build hologram

Another cool thing—real holograms!

Worst thing about being president was name-calling?

Former President George W. Bush says the lowest point of his presidency was when Kanye West called him a racist over the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.  Really?  It wasn’t September 11, or not catching bin Laden, or the economic crash with the bankruptcies, foreclosures, debt, and job losses?  It wasn’t lying to start a war that’s cost thousands of American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives, or Abu Ghraib?  Not even the fact you couldn’t help ease the very real suffering of those victims of Katrina?  (And why do you care what Kanye West thinks?  Are you really so self-absorbed that you think that’s the worst thing that happened during those eight years?  Really?)

A lot of that daily 200 mil is for Michelle’s hairdressers

You can say almost anything and be believed, if you’re careful who you speak to.  Citing only a report in one Indian newspaper, which cites only one unnamed source, the geniuses of the political right have been trumpeting their disgust about the “fact” that our government is going to spend $200 million a day on President Obama’s diplomatic trip to India, including sending 34 warships to sit security off the coast of Mumbai.  Yeah, more than the daily cost of the war in Afghanistan, or the full purchase price of the New Jersey Nets.  Talk about your willing suspension of disbelief…

We’ve also just learned that water is wet

No, really: they sequenced Ozzy Osbourne’s DNA and confirmed what had long been suspected: he’s a mutant.