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Islamic radicalism: The questions that Rep. Peter King is right to ask

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Sensitivities are raw as Congress, seeing a growing threat, turns attention to radical Islam in U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, is drawing comparisons to McCarthyism for calling these hearings. (March 8)

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Certainly, the best evidence against King is King. His manner is blustering verging on crude. His language has been loose, crossing the border to offensive, as when he told the Associated Press last month, "There is a real threat to the country from the Muslim community, and the only way to get to the bottom of it is to investigate what is happening."

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In an area that calls for careful choice of words and frequent expressions of respect, King has too often been willing to paint with a broad brush that alienates the very community whose help he seeks.

At the same time, it is a parody of political correctness to argue that a hearing on domestic terrorism cannot focus solely on the Muslim community to be acceptable.

"It's absolutely the right thing to do for the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee to investigate radicalization, but to say we're going to investigate a religious minority . . . is the wrong course of action to take," Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, told CNN.

Yes, there are other sources of terrorism. Radical Islam is the biggest and most dangerous. And, yes, King is a flawed questioner. But the question he poses is an appropriate - and important - one.

ruthmarcus@washpost.com


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