Betty Friedan famously wrote about “the problem that has no name.” Decades later, domestic Islamic radicalism bids fair to become the new nameless problem, at least if the Left gets its way.
The outraged reaction to the hearings being held by Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) to look into the radicalization of the domestic Muslim community was so mindless it bordered on a collective self-lobotomy. The late conservative intellectual James Burnham once wrote that “liberalism permits Western civilization to be reconciled to its dissolution.” If the House committee devoted to homeland security — which held hearings on “The Future of FEMA’s Grant Programs Directorate” among sundry other topics during the past two years — can’t examine why some Muslims born and raised in the United States wage war on their own country, we might as well turn off the lights on our common culture.
There’s no denying the fact of domestic radicalization. “It is one of the things that keeps me up at night,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in an interview with ABC News last year. “The threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens.” Holder once called us a nation of cowards for not discussing race enough; his own party is positively lily-livered about discussing the very threat that makes him lose sleep.
For daring to delve into what has Holder so worried, King was savaged as a new Joe McCarthy creating the predicate for the mass internment of Muslims. If King is the equivalent of “Tail-Gunner Joe,” what does that make Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, a moderate Democrat and a moderate Republican, respectively, who lead the Senate counterpart of King’s committee? According to its website, “Since 2006, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has investigated the threat facing the United States from homegrown terrorism and domestic radicalization inspired by violent Islamist extremism.” And not one Muslim family has been sent to an internment camp.
If there’s an association between terrorism and Islam, it’s not King’s fault. It’s the handiwork of Maj. Nidal Hasan, who allegedly shouted “Allahu Akbar!” while gunning down 13 people at Fort Hood, and all the other home-grown extremists who have perpetrated or attempted mayhem in the name of Allah.
King called two witnesses who had heart-rending stories to tell, Melvin Bledsoe and Abdirizak Bihi. Bledsoe’s son Carlos converted to Islam in college, changed his name to Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, and stands accused of killing a U.S. soldier at an Arkansas recruiting center. After becoming radicalized, Bihi’s nephew was killed in Somalia in 2009. Bihi maintains that Muslim leaders in the Minneapolis area urged him not to warn law enforcement about his nephew’s disappearance. “They threatened me, intimidated me, and not only me but whole families,” Bihi told the committee.
Democrats evinced very little curiosity about Bledsoe or Bihi. For them, the very act of calling these gentlemen to testify represented the threat to America. The reliably insipid Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas) brandished a U.S. Constitution that she insisted “is in pain.” She must think that the First Amendment reads, “Congress shall hold no hearing respecting Islamic radicalization . . .”
Jackson Lee suggested the committee take on the “cold cases” from the South of the civil-rights era, while her colleague Rep. Gene Green (D., Texas) urged King to investigate the KKK. For a segment of the Left, American racism is still the only true source of evil. Misogynist, Jew-hating, infidel-killing Muslim extremists don’t quite measure up.
If King had convened a hearing on the threat of salt to our health and lives, committee Democrats no doubt would have pored over every variant — refined, unrefined, iodized — of the damnable substance. They can’t summon the same feeling for investigating Islamic extremism, considering such an inquiry an offense against multiculturalism. The Democrats made King’s first hearing a circus. He nonetheless achieved an important, if inadvertent, success: exposing his critics as hysterical fools.
— Rich Lowry is editor of National Review. He can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2011 by King Features Syndicate.