Now that the first round of hearings is over, it might be time to assess what sort of an impact they had and whether or not the criticism was right. Needless to point out, criticism has varied considerably, from Chris Matthews, host of MSNBCs Hardball, who called the hearings a witch-trial and Abu Muqawama, who has argued that it might undermine counter-radicalisation efforts. I take a somewhat different stance.
The problem with the King hearings is not that they single out a specific group of people. I still find that criticism sort of ridiculous, after all most terrorist activities are not emanating from some Buddhist sect or those strange Catholics who really think that the pope might be gods temporary emissary to earth. And its not that Islamist inspired terrorism should be compared to the horrific crimes committed by Timothy McVeigh. The latter was an individual, perpetrating a terrorist act out of some lunatic conspiracy theory. The problem within the Islamic community is of an apparently, or obviously different nature. There is and should be some concern, when a lone wolf terrorist kills two U.S. airmen at Frankfurt Airport, when 14 Muslims of Somali origin disappear in Minnesota to fight alongside al-Shabaab in Somalia, you get the point.
The issue also is not Rep. Peter Kings apparent hypocrisy, when talking about al-Qaida and Islamist terrorism on the one hand, and the Irish Republican Army on the other. That is appalling enough in itself but not a sufficient reason to argue that Congress should not conduct hearings. Which is my larger point: Congress is well within its rights to conduct these hearings and I find it somewhat troublesome that the issue being debated is that of a community. It should be debated whether or not Congress should really be held from debating such an issue. After all this is the representation of the American people and they have right to conduct whatever hearings they damn well please. I am just saying, you cannot on the one hand argue that the Islamic community has a right to build a mosque near Ground Zero (which they clearly have) and than on the other argue that there are specific topics Congress better not discuss. Which brings me to my point: There is some hypocrisy coming from the left as well.
But that does not mean the hearings are a brilliant idea. My problem with the hearings is this: they won't reveal anything even remotely new. After watching the first round of hearings, I am rather surprised to listen to Rep. King on CNN explaining that the hearings were exceptionally educational. What sort of a nonsense is that? Even to someone only superficially familiar with radicalisation and extremist thinking and Islamic fundamentalism, the hearings must have been a complete waste of time. Are we to assume, I might humbly ask, that Rep. Peter King, is not familiar with the debate or for that matter the patterns in radicalisation? Because, quite frankly, that is the only conclusion that presents itself here.