Video: Congressman sobs in testimony during King hearings

posted at 12:15 pm on March 10, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

There is little doubt that Mohammed Salman Hamdani died a hero on 9/11. The Pakistani-born American, just 23 years old, tried rescuing people from the World Trade Center when the buildings collapsed, killing him as well as almost 2800 others in the worst terrorist attack on American soil. Hamdani had planned a life of service to his community, working as a paramedic and then as a cadet for the New York Police Department. His heroic death was significant enough to get an explicit mention in the USA Patriot Act in its condemnation of bigotry against Arabs and Muslims.

Even so, this seems a little, er, over the top:

Rep. Keith Ellison, one of two Muslim members of Congress, broke down in tears while delivering his testimony in defense of the Muslim community during a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing Thursday. …

“His life should not be identified as just a member of an ethnic group or just a member of a religion, but an American who gave everything for his fellow Americans,” he said.

The hearing, officially titled “The extent of radicalization in the American Muslim community and that community’s response,” were initiated by committee chairman New York Republican Rep. Pete King and have been criticized as a “witch hunt” in the days leading up to the meeting. King defended the hearings, saying that “to back down would be a craven surrender to political correctness.”

The problem with describing these as “witch hunts” is that there were no actual witches to be found.  In this case, we’ve not only been repeatedly attacked by radical Islamists from abroad, but also from within as well.  Anwar al-Awlaki has American citizenship, for instance, and has become one of the most dangerous terrorist leaders in the world.  He inspired Major Nidal Hasan’s massacre at Fort Hood, Faisal Shahzad’s attempt to bomb Times Square, just to name two recent plots, and may have had a hand in the Zazi plot as well.

King and others in this hearing have gone out of their way to repeat that they are looking into radical Islam as a major problem in home-grown terrorism.  Even that won’t satisfy Ellison, who seems determined to shout (or sob) down any attempt to talk about the nature of radical Islam and the threat to national security it represents as somehow an attack on all Muslims.  Ruth Marcus isn’t fooled:

To listen to King’s critics, you would think he was urging modern-day internment camps for Muslim Americans. In a letter to King on Monday, more than 50 progressive groups slammed him for “singling out a particular community for examination in what appears to be little more than a political show-trial.” …

At the same time, it is a parody of political correctness to argue that a hearing on domestic terrorism cannot focus solely on the Muslim community to be acceptable.

Neither is Peter Wehner, who rebuts an unusually silly attack by Peter Beinart in his latest column:

Political Islam is a real and lethal phenomenon. Those who are carrying out attacks, like Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood killer, and Faisal Shahzad, who was charged in the attempted bombing in Times Square, are doing so in the name of Islam. The problem therefore inherently defines itself in religious terms, making it qualitatively different from the examples Beinart uses. There is nothing analogous to Islamism in Christianity or Judaism right now. Now you can believe, as I do, that al-Qaeda’s interpretation of Islam is perverted and corrupting — but to deny the role political Islam plays in terrorism is delusional. …

Even Attorney General Eric Holder said in an interview that the alarming rise in the number of Americans who are eager to kill their fellow citizens “is one of the things that keeps me up at night. The threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens — raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born.”

So are we supposed to pretend that terrorist attacks on Americans aren’t rooted in a particular strand of Islam?

And is Congress supposed to ignore the threat that Holder and Janet Napolitano have reported to them simply because it makes Keith Ellison cry?  Let’s not forget that American heroes like Mohammed Salman Hamdani died because we didn’t take the threat of radical Islam abroad more seriously.  Let’s not continue to make the same mistake about radical Islam here at home.


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