Representative Peter King wants to hold hearings on the radicalization of Muslim youths in America as a major threat to American security.
This has raised some protests.
The protests have made a number of claims.
One of those claims is tactical. By focusing specifically on Muslim youths, the hearings will cause Muslim youths to feel that Islam is being unfairly singled out, which will then cause them to become radicalized and a threat to national security.
Well, this is a topic that can be brought up in the hearings. I would be interested in knowing if this is just an "intuition" that some people have, or if it has a basis in fact. I would like to hear the evidence, and these hearings would be a good opportunity to present that evidence.
If I were holding the hearings, I would be looking for people who can tell me something of the history of those Muslims who became radicalized. I would want to know who and what was causally responsible for the condition. Furthermore, I would want to know what the warning signs are and the methods of detection we can put in place to look for those warning signs. I would want to know what types of things seem to stand in the way of radicalization. And, of course, I would want to see what evidence people are using to draw these conclusions.
But is this the type of information that King is looking for?
Republicans in general have had shown themselves to have a strong aversion to anything that even hints at a rational, scientific investigation of a problem. Instead, many tend to think that “sound science” is "anything that supports the unquestionable self-evidence truths that I, being the true genius that I am in perfect harmony with the wisdom of the universe, already know beyond all possible doubt."
In fact, the report cited above states that the list of invited speakers includes Zadhi Jasser:
Zudhi Jasser, an America Muslim of Syrian descent and a physician in Arizona… believes that to counter radicalization of young Muslims, Islam should be purged of Islamist politics that he says fuel anger in people like Nidal Hassan, the Fort Hood gunman. "To measure (the threat) you can't approach it scientifically," Jasser said, referring to the data on violence committed by radicalized Muslims. "It's about countering an ideology that is at odds with Western ideals."
Translation: "Bah, who needs all this science garbage? I - being the perfectly wise and wonderful person that I am - already know the truth. Evidence is for wimps."
"Peter King's hearing is a staged event that will do little to shed light on the causes of domestic terrorism . . . . Instead the hearing will be a platform for Islamophobia draped in the American flag, reinforcing ignorance, stereotypes, bigotry and intolerance in the name of national security."
The point is that it is the content of the hearing, not the fact that the hearing actually takes place, that will tell us if King's actions are motivated by a desire to save lives while maintaining a respect for the human dignity of others who are of no threat, or whether he intends to use his power and position to engage in primitive chest-thumping tribalism.
Another point of protest against King's hearings is that it is unfair to have hearings that focus specifically on the radicalization of Muslims and avoid talking about the radicalization of other groups (e.g., radical fundamentalist Christians who murder doctors who perform abortions, blow up abortion clinics, and threaten other violent activities).
While there is some reason for concern, it is also the case that focusing on a specific form of radicalization is a fair topic. Different forms of radicalization might have sufficiently different causes.
If the medical community were having a conference on "Leukemia" it would be strange to argue that this conference ought not to take place - that the only legitimate for the medical community to discuss cancers in a generic sense rather than holding a conference on a specific type of cancer.
On the other hand, there would be reason to question what was going on if medical researchers were spending huge amounts of time and money studying a form of cancer that killed an average of 4 people per year, while ignoring other forms of cancer that, combined, killed 150,000 people per year. One thing we can say with near certainty that, whatever is motivating their research topics, they are certainly not being motivated by a desire to save lives.
So, while some objections to the hearings that James King plans to host have no merit, this does not imply that we are lacking in good reasons to question his motives. We certainly have cause to look closely at whether he intends to use these hearings to acquire information useful for taking lives, or as a personal stage for performing the ape-like antic of throwing poo at members of tribes he does not like.