Peter King Opens Investigation into “Radical” Islam in the US; Dogged by IRA Past

Posted on March 10, 2011

Rep Peter King, R, NY, looks fairly fierce – just the kind of man to get on his horse and go out to fight fights for “peace, justice and the American way.”  But as he opened the Homeland Security Committee (he is Chair of the Committee) hearings looking into  the roots of radical Islam in the US and the ties to al Qaeda, his detractors were digging into his own “radical” past.

…[H]is pro-I.R.A. past gives his many critics an obvious opening. The congressman’s assertions that 85 percent of leaders of American mosques hold extremist views and that Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement have alarmed Muslim groups, some counterterrorism experts and even a few former allies in Irish-American causes.

Mr. King, son of a New York City police officer and grand-nephew of an I.R.A. member, offers no apologies for his past, which he has celebrated in novels that feature a Irish-American congressman with I.R.A. ties who bears a striking resemblance to the author.

Of comparisons between the terrorism of the I.R.A. and that of Al Qaeda and its affiliates, Mr. King said: “I understand why people who are misinformed might see a parallel. The fact is, the I.R.A. never attacked the United States. And my loyalty is to the United States.”

Face it, in America many Irish and non-Irish sympathizers were sending money and/or guns to the IRA.  In the end, because of his straightforward dealings, King became a part of the peace process that led to the end of “the troubles.” [New York Times]

It is a positive thing that King knows the push and pull of being part of a close-knit ethnic community.  This should help him keep an open mind.  It can also be the basis of overly focusing on it.  Whatever happens, regardless of his past, it is how King handles these hearings that will determine not only the outcome but drive the feelings of Muslims and their counterparts in America farther into isolation from each other.

The New York Times pointed out that it is the second generation Muslim-Americans that are more prone to be converted to more radical behaviors.  SamHenry can relate to that.  When my family were on their way to tour Britain, my English Great-grandmother said “why would you want to go there” ?  She remembers living under British law of the time when she witnessed a poor man jailed for an inordinately long period of time because he had shot a rabbit for his supper on another man’s land.  She had her reasons.  But my generation wanted to go back to visit roots.  Many young Muslims in this country are doing just that and the trick will be to make certain we separate the true terrorists from exuberant young men and women.  That will be the only acceptable outcome and believe it, a Republican can do it.

The Obama administration is trying to achieve the same thing but with Barack’s history and manner, it will be another exercise in how to divide this country.  King has a track record of peacemaking with what he perceived as the enemy.  He stands a very good chance for doing a good thing for Muslims as well as other Americans.  Meanwhile, he is surrounded by heavy security – the price for even attempting to make a go of it.