Republican Rep. Peter King of New York says he wants to hold investigations into the “radicalization” of American Muslims in his new position as chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, but Rep. Keith Ellison said on Monday that targeting one community would hamper homeland security efforts.
“I believe it’s important to have this investigation into the radicalization of the Muslim community,” King said in an interview with Fox News this week. “We have to break through this politically correct nonsense which keeps us from debating and discussing what I think is one of the most vitally important issues in this country. We are under siege by Muslim terrorists and yet there are Muslim leaders in this country who do not cooperate with law enforcement.”
Ellison, who became America’s first Muslim member of Congress in 2006, said that investigations like the one proposed by King will not cause members of the community to cooperate with law enforcement. He said it might have the opposite effect. Ellison said he confronted King on the House floor on the issue.
“I got so concerned that when I heard about it I actually approached Congressman King on the House floor and told him that, you know, look, we all need to be concerned about violent radicalization, but not just against Muslims, against anybody,” he said on the Ed Show on MSNBC on Monday. “What about the guy who flew a plane into the IRS or what about the guy who killed a guard at the holocaust museum?”
He said the proposed investigations should include all Americans. “You know it is worthwhile to find out what turns somebody from a normal citizen into a violent radical, but to say that we’re only going to do it against this community and we’re about to change the debate to vilify this community is very scary and clearly has McCarthyistic implications.”
Ellison added, “I’m willing to engage with Congressman King… Let’s investigate this thing in the right way and… enlist Muslim Americans to help safeguard our country… I’m fearful that if you attack an discrete, insular community, you will make people, good people, withdraw, and I would like to see Muslim leaders, if they feel there is some national security threat in their midst, they would feel comfortable talking to the FBI, talking to local law enforcement, and this kind of stuff can really discourage that.”