On the essential American-ness of Muslim Americans.

Once again, thanks to the Twitter (in this case, @ggreenwald), I’ve been made more aware of an important issue than I might otherwise have been.

Apparently the reprehensible Rep. Peter King (R- Ignoramus City NY) is holding hearings next month regarding the threat American Muslims pose to their own country. King maintains that “over 80 percent of the mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams,” and that when it comes to combating terror and times of war, Muslims are not “American.”

I’d heard about these shenanigans, but wasn’t really following very closely. Then this morning Glenn Greenwald (a man with whom, it must be noted, I do on occasion have my disagreements!) tweeted a link to that first story I referenced above, writing

This Peter King hearing on American Muslims is certain to be one of the most disgusting spectacles seen in some time.

And I just thought: Yes. Yes it is.

Awhile back, I posted a short compilation of Muslim statements categorically rejecting terrorism, which might prove informative here, and ThinkProgress has done great job of debunking the King nonsense:

King’s assertion that American Muslims aren’t cooperating with authorities and that Muslim organizations in the U.S. aren’t denouncing terrorism is simply false. At an event sponsored by the Center for American Progress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) reported that, “About a third of all foiled al-Qaida-related plots in the U.S. relied on support or information provided by members of the Muslim community.” …

But the hearings/investigations aren’t really about establishing fact. They’re about establishing an idea: Muslims are dangerous.

King is planning a show, a game, a series of entirely symbolic events, all with one aim: To establish in the mind of the average Real American [tm] that Muslim Americans aren’t Real Americans — that they are, in fact, a threat to Real Americans. Why, if a member of the US Congress believes these people to be dangerous enough to warrant hearings, by gum, they must be dangerous!

As such, facts — as written on paper or blinking on computer screens — aren’t really what will outmaneuver such an effort. No, what’s called for here are good optics. What’s needed is something, or somethingS, that will be more symbolically powerful than the implications of a Congressional hearing.

After seeing the Greenwald tweet, I immediately began thinking of all the ways that I would try to combat the hearings’ message, were I the Person In Charge of Public Relations for Muslim Americans.

How about sending Muslim veterans in uniform to the hearings (possibly from among the more than 200 Muslim Americans to be awarded combat action ribbons)? Or newspaper commentary by those who knew Muslims killed in action? How about interfaith prayer vigils across the country? Or maybe just Muslims declaring themselves in some public place outside the hearings, ala the Rally to Restore Sanity: “I’m a Muslim doctor,” “I’m a Muslim teacher,” “I’m a Muslim dad.” (I’d love it if singer Kareem Salama would chime in with his own sign: “I’m a Muslim country/western singer” — Kareem, call me!).

Sadly, I am not the Person In Charge of Public Relations for Muslim Americans.

But I believe I’m going to try to run with these ideas, or push them along, or put them out into the general political ether. How, I’m not sure. By what means, also not sure. But I have some ideas about that, too.

I’ll let you know!


In the meantime, if you have some thoughts about the essential American-ness of Muslim Americans, let your Senators and Representatives know! The best way to do that is via letter — letters take forever in the nation’s capital (really – security, and all), but we’ve got a little bit of time before the hearings, so knock yourselves out! The second best way to contact your elected representatives is by phone, followed by email. But however you do it, please do it! You can find contact information for you Senators here and your Representative here. This is especially important if your Representative is on the Homeland Security Committee – check here.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

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  1. Bob

     /  January 25, 2011

    Once again–brutal, but dead on the mark. Well done.

  2. There’s a large PDF document I read not long ago showing a detailed study of the views of American Muslims after 9/11, concluding that there was considerably less radicalism among them than in just about any other country. Here are some of the findings:

    – A plurality of American Muslims (49%) think mosques should stay out of political matters.
    – An overwhelming majority reject terrorism and are concerned about the rise of Islamic radicalism.
    – 61% answer in the affirmative that “a way can be found for Israel to exist so that the rights and needs of the Palestinian people can be taken care of.”

    Doesn’t sound very radical to me. It did show, though, that fewer than half believe 9/11 was done by Arabs.

    Here is the PDF file. Most of the relevant information is in Chapter 6.

    Click to access muslim-americans.pdf

  3. AlexBlake

     /  January 26, 2011


    Doesn’t he have some actual work to do, rather than freaking McCarthy era witch hunts?

    I guess I now understand while the conservative punditry spent so much time trying to rehabilitate McCarthy’s rep. So, they can reuse the tactics against the “Tratorous Mooslim Terrorist Horde” in some sort of dog and pony show “See we are doing something to protect you, unlike that “Kenyan Mooslim Usurper”. “And did you know he’s Black.

    Sigh. The more things change…

    I like your ideas about getting a bunch of “normal” Moslems there. I hope that’s how they roll.

  4. It’s especially frustrating when you consider that one of the reasons American Muslims are less easy targets for radicalism than in some European countries is because we don’t treat them like second-class citizens.

    Also, a practical note on contacting your representatives — from what I understand, faxed letters are given as much weight as physical mail (more than email), and obviously get through much faster.

  5. Bactrian

     /  February 2, 2011

    Thank you for all the effort you’ve put in on this topic.

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