Leaders of the Muslim-American community are not doing enough to combat al-Qaida's increasingly successful attempts to recruit homegrown terrorists, said incoming House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King.
King, R-NY, drew criticism – including allegations of bigotry – in response to his intention to have his committee focus on homegrown Islamist radicalism. In a column published Tuesday by Newsday, King explained that he sees "a disconnect between outstanding Muslims who contribute so much to the future of our country and those leaders who - for whatever reason - acquiesce in terror or ignore the threat." That creates a security threat.
"I will do all I can to break down the wall of political correctness and drive the public debate on Islamic radicalization" King wrote.
It's a position that triggers immediate and harsh blowback. "To some in the strata of political correctness, I'm a pretty bad guy," he wrote. "To be blunt, this crowd sees me as an anti-Muslim bigot. A spokesman for the Committee on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) denounced me last year for making "'bigoted remarks . . . about Muslims and mosques (that) have no place in national security discussions.'"
Media outlets have echoed some of those criticisms. But King notes just a few recent examples of homegrown terror plots, including one targeting New York subways and the 2009 Fort Hood massacre as context for why hearings are relevant and appropriate. "As chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, I will do all I can to break down the wall of political correctness and drive the public debate on Islamic radicalization," he wrote. "These hearings will be a step in that direction. It's what democracy is all about."