In comments, he defends his claim that both Republicans and Democrats, both Congressman King and "liberals," are comparably wrong--that there is "a witch-hunt on one side, denial on the other, as the threat of home-grown terrorism rises":
Peter David: On the one hand Peter King is a hypocrite who is wrong to accuse American Muslims in general of failing to report terrorist plots. On the other, al-Qaeda is recruiting among American Muslims and this is a legitimate concern of the Homeland Security Committee of the House of Representatives. What's so very hard for you to understand?
The Economist used to be a lot better than this. It could be a lot better than this. It ought to be a lot better than this. You should not accuse people of being in "denial" when you quote from columns in which they expressly note what you claim they deny.
Let's rewind the videotape.
Peter David wrote a plague-on-both-your-houses column, with the houses being Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, on the one hand; and "liberals" Richard Cohen, Bob Herbert, and Eugene Robinson on the other. The first was undertaking a "witch-hunt." The second were engaged in "denial":
Lexington: Muslims and McCarthyism: A witch-hunt on one side, denial on the other, as the threat of home-grown terrorism rises: IS A new Joe McCarthy strutting his stuff up on Capitol Hill? You might think so, to judge by the abuse that has thundered down on the head of Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, following his decision to start hearings on “The Extent of Radicalisation in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response”. Even before the first one took place this week, the very idea of the hearings came under withering fire from liberal America. They were “fuel for the bigots”, said Richard Cohen, a columnist at the Washington Post. “To focus an investigative spotlight on an entire religious or ethnic community is a violation of everything America is supposed to stand for,” echoed Bob Herbert in the New York Times. “Security hearings that focus exclusively on Muslim Americans serve only to amplify the rumblings of Islamophobia that seem to become louder and crazier by the day,” concurred Eugene Robinson, another of the Post’s columnists...
What's wrong with Cohen's claim that King's hearing was "fuel for the bigots," with Herbert's claim that focusing the "investigative spotlight on an entire religious or ethnic community is a violation of everything America is supposed to stand for," with Robinson's claim that King's hearing will "serve only to amplify the rumblings of Islamophobia that seem to become louder and crazier by the day"?
It is not clear. Indeed, at the end of his column David agrees with Robinson, Cohen, and Herbert that King's hearing:
risks feeding the sense of beleaguerment and outrage many American Muslims have come to feel in the face of the recent scaremongering over the so-called “ground zero” mosque in New York and the Republican Party’s paranoid fantasy about Islamic sharia law taking over America by stealth.... King was in the forefront of the trumped-up objections to the Manhattan mosque. What folly to let such a man chair the Homeland Security Committee of the House of Representatives.
So what's Peter David's complaint with Cohen, Herbert, and Robinson? It is this:
[T]he liberal side has a defect of its own.... [It] let[s] political correctness obscure a troubling development.... Islamist terrorism is the clear and present danger.... [A]l-Qaeda has lately shown an unexpected ability both to recruit American Muslims and to move its battle back to American soil.... Anwar al-Awlaki... grew up in New Mexico. Adnan Shukrijumah... is a Saudi-American who grew up in Brooklyn and Florida. David Headley... scouted targets for the attack on Mumbai.... Nidal Malik Hasan, a Palestinian-American... Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American...
Has Richard Cohen let political correctness obscure a troubling development? Richard Cohen writes, in the column cited by Peter David:
Richard Cohen: Fuel for bigots: [L]ast month... Charles Kurzman reported a drop in attempted or actual terrorist activity by American Muslims -- 47 perpetrators and suspects in 2009, 20 in 2010. This does not mean that there is no threat, but, when measured against ordinary violent crime, it is slight. In fact, the threat from non-Muslims is much greater, encompassing not only your run-of-the-mill murderers but about 20 domestic terrorist plots, including one where a plane was flown into an IRS building in Austin, Texas.... [I]n exposing alleged terrorist plots, "the largest single source of initial information (48 of 120 cases) involved tips from the Muslim American community." Not only does this contradict King's implicit charge that the American Muslim community is one vast terrorism enabler, but it suggests that an outcome of his hearings will be the further alienation of this community -- and less cooperation with the authorities. King is setting a dangerous precedent. The government has no business examining any peaceful religious group because a handful of adherents have broken the law...
Looks to me like Richard Cohen is not letting political correctness obscure a troubling development but is instead taking a balanced and reality-based view of the issue.
Has Eugene Robinson let political correctness obscure a troubling development? Eugene Robinson writes, in the column cited by Peter David:
Stoking Irrational Fears: King further alleges that Muslim Americans have failed to demonstrate "sufficient cooperation" with law enforcement in uncovering potential terrorist plots. With this libel, King casts doubt on the loyalties of millions of Americans solely because of their faith. This is religious persecution -- and it's un-American and wrong.... [T]he 9/11 atrocities were indeed committed by men who espouse a version of Islam -- one that the vast majority of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims reject as warped and blasphemous.... [A]l-Qaeda and its affiliates continue to mount attacks against the United States and the West, and that jihadist ideology is a deadly weapon.... The narrative that al-Qaeda uses to recruit suicide bombers is that the United States and the West are not fighting terrorism but trying to destroy Islam. Peter King, with his little hearings, is about to make it harder to refute the jihadists' big lie.
Looks to me like Eugene Robinson is not letting political correctness obscure a troubling development but is instead taking a balanced and reality-based view of the issue.
Has Bob Herbert let political correctness obscure a troubling development? Bob Herbert writes, in the column cited by Peter David:
Flailing After Muslims: “There is a real threat to the country from the Muslim community,” [Representative King] said, “and the only way to get to the bottom of it is to investigate what is happening.” That kind of sweeping statement from a major government official about a religious minority — soon to be backed up by the intimidating aura of Congressional hearings — can only serve to further demonize a group of Americans already being pummeled by bigotry and vicious stereotyping.... To focus an investigative spotlight on an entire religious or ethnic community is a violation of everything America is supposed to stand for. But that does not seem to concern Mr. King. “The threat is coming from the Muslim community,” he told The Times. “The radicalization attempts are directed at the Muslim community. Why should I investigate other communities?”... There is nothing wrong with the relentless investigation of terrorism. That’s essential. But that is not the same as singling out, stereotyping and harassing an entire community.... Mr. King’s contention that Muslims are not cooperating with law enforcement is just wrong.... What are we doing? Do we want to demonize innocent people and trample on America’s precious freedom of religion? Or do we want to stop terrorism?...
Looks to me like Bob Herbert is not letting political correctness obscure a troubling development but is instead taking a balanced and reality-based view of the issue.
The Economist used to be a lot better than this. It could be a lot better than this. It ought to be a lot better than this.