Yes, score one for the NYT:
It is disturbing to listen to Representative Peter King, the incoming chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. He has announced plans to hold a hearing next month into what he calls the “radicalization of the American Muslim community.” Mr. King, a New York Republican, is no stranger to bluster, but his sweeping slur on Muslim citizens is unacceptable.
The new chairman, of course, acknowledges “the great majority of Muslims in our country are hardworking, dedicated Americans.” At the same time he claims, with no evidence, that the hearing is urgently needed because “law enforcement officials throughout the country told me they received little or — in most cases — no cooperation from Muslim leaders and imams” in tracking domestic threats, according to his essay in Newsday.
We hope that if Mr. King insists on going ahead, he at least calls a true cross section of law enforcement officials, who we are sure will rebut that hype.
We agree with Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the nation's first Muslim elected to the House, who called Mr. King's words “very scary.” It is worthwhile to try to fathom “what turns somebody from a normal citizen into a violent radical,” Mr. Ellison says, but not by vilifying an entire community for openers.
It is all the more perplexing because Mr. King was one of the few Republicans to back the Clinton administration's interventions in the Balkans to protect Muslims. He has popped off far too often in recent years, claiming, among other things, that President George W. Bush “deserves a medal” for authorizing waterboarding.
He had better recall his role as a gifted intermediary in helping to settle Ireland's sectarian troubles. He would have bristled at any simplistic talk about the “radicalization” of the Irish Catholic or Protestant communities. Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security is a very serious job. Mr. King needs to get serious.