Amber Fricke, Student Writer, The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice
Representative Peter King, who has ties to the IRA (a terrorist organization), held hearings earlier this month to investigate radicalization in the Muslim American community.[i] Fellow member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of the U.S. Congress, chastised Representative King for going on a witch hunt into the Muslim American community and failing to be concerned with violent radicalization in other communities.[ii] Representative King’s unwillingness to expand the scope of the hearing demonstrates the bigoted nature of his endeavor, as well as his disregard for the safety of our country, particularly if the radicalization is of a group that is more likely to vote Republican.
The rise in membership in white supremacy groups preceded the 2008 election cycle, particularly targeting non-white immigrants. The election of the first black president accelerated membership in white supremacist organizations.[iii] Since the election of President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security released a report warning of a possible rise in right wing domestic terrorism.[iv] However, much of the coverage of the report included criticism that it was targeting “good, patriotic Americans.” So much criticism arose that DHS head, Janet Napolitano backpedaled her support of the report. Nevertheless, the report doesn’t seem to be that uncalled for considering some of the events that followed the release of the report in early 2009[v]:
· Earlier this week, a cross was burned outside the house of a black family in a predominantly white community in central California. As a hate crime, it is currently being investigated by the FBI.[vi]
· In February, a man with ties to white supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups was caught before he could execute his plan to set off a bomb at a MLK day parade in Spokane, Washington. [vii]
· Also, last month, a South Dakota state representative introduced a bill that would make murder of an abortion provider justifiable homicide.[viii]
· Justifiable homicide is the same reasoning that anti-choice extremists have used in killing abortion providers, such as Dr. George Tiller who was gunned down while at church in May 2009. [ix]
· Only a month after the murder of Dr. Tiller, a white supremacist murdered a guard at the Holocaust Museum.[x]
· Furthermore, anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate crimes are astonishingly high. The past couple years have included a plan by a Christian pastor in Florida to burn Korans in in commemoration of 9/11,[xi] bigoted opposition to a community center in New York City because it was being built by Muslims, and various incidents of vandalism and even plots to bomb a mosque.[xii] Finally, earlier this month, citizens and political leaders protested a fundraiser for battered women and homeless persons earlier this month, verbally and physically harassing Muslim attendees, including children, in Southern California.[xiii]
The list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but it is a glimpse into the current climate. The harassment, hate crimes and terror plots against religious minorities, racial minorities, undocumented immigrants, and women are important issues that are a threat to all of America and the future of this multicultural nation. We need to speak out against people like Representative Peter King, who’s harassing a group for political gain, and focus on the rhetoric and mentality that is fueling domestic terrorism, hatred, and the harassment of discrete and insular minorities.