Will these hearings "demonize" Muslims in America?

*Prologue: Before I begin this post, I should mention that in choosing to bring up this subject, I may well be banned from SDMB by Tomndebb, since in a previous thread of mine a few weeks ago he called me a “one-trick pony” (apparently the rules about personal attacks outside the Pit do not apply to Tom). He implied that I would be asked to seek another venue to air my opinions. If this occurs, I would like to thank EVERYONE who has participated in my posted threads, including those who opposed me. Accepting and living with opposition and contradiction, whether comments or cartoons or books, without resorting to violence and murder, is one of the noblest accomplishments of our Western enlightenment and one that I would gladly put my life on the line to defend. So if I am banned, whether you supported or opposed me, I thank you all equally. To Muslims I say that I have never sought to demonize or denigrate you. What I want to defend is our secular democratic way of life in which law is based on reason rather than revelation. It is the political ideology or Islam, not individual Muslims, that threatens our freedom. *
Now let’s get down to business. According to this article and this article there is supposed to be a demo in New York today by a coalition of over 100 interfaith, nonprofit and governmental organizations against a planned congressional hearing on Muslims’ role in homegrown terrorism.

The coalition says Thursday’s hearing will send the wrong message to U.S. Muslims by “demonizing” them.

What is there to hide? If the hearings show no evidence of a higher incidence or radicalization and no higher propensity to terrorism among Muslims in America than among Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists or Presbyterians, then I should think America’s Muslims would welcome such a conclusion. If it is revealed that radicfalization is making headway in the Islamic community in America, I would think the vast majority of peaceful Muslims we are constantly told about would want to know so they can do something.

Especially interesting is the comment of Representative Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat, the first Muslim elected to the House, who says that while it’s proper to investigate radicalization, he thinks it is wrong to single out a religious minority.

Mr. Ellison is a former Roman Catholic who converted to Islam. Whichh is his right, of course. But let’s hope he never decisdes to renounce Islam, because the killing of apostates is still widely approved of in the Muslim world. For example, Pew Research showed in a poll of Muslim countries last fall that in some countries like Egypt, over 80% agree that apostates should be killed.

Now, I do not expect that Representative Keith Ellison would be gunned down tomorrow morning if he changed religions, but then again, if he ever did renounce Islam, I would advise him to think about protection of the kind needed by famous apostates like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Statistically speaking, there must be tens of millions (not to say hundreds of millions) of Muslims who believe he should be killed if he ever renounces Islam. And it just takes one person with a gun to do it.

Of course the majority of Muslims are not terrorists. I am sure that if Keith Ellison ever renounced Islam and had someone shooting at him, he would take great comfort in that fact.

Now then, how many people in the west do you know who have renounced Christianity? Have you ever heard of a single one of these people needing personal protection? I renounced Catholicism 50 years ago. Never once in my life did it occur to me to be afraid of retribution.

But by all means, just to be fair, let us hold hearings into home-grown terrorism among Presbyterians, or Jehovah’s witnesses.

Or Roman Catholics. And if we DO find some American Irish Roman Catholics raising money for IRA terrorist activities, let us deal with them.

Or would that be “demonizing” Irish-American Roman Catholics?

Finally, a question: If you were a radicalized Muslim terrorist who is recruiting young American Muslims for terrorism and spreading radical jihadist ideas in Muslim communities in the US, would YOU be in favour of these hearings? Or would you join those opposing the hearings at today’s demo?

Yes it demonizes them. It’s a stupid and pointless hearing. The US suffers more “homegrown terrorism” from Christians than from Muslims. Let’s do a hearing on Christians first.

ETA, Muslims who choose to leave Islam are in no danger in the US.

No, because US law is based on freedom of religion. But if, for instance, representative Ellis were to renounce Islam and later travel to a country like Saudi Arabia or Iran, (say he is no longer a US Congressman and no longer protected by that fact). He could, according to Sharia law, be executed by the penal law in those countries, or even, according to many millions of Muslims, be killed by any private individual for having renounced Islam.

Ah, “What is there to hide?” the rallying cry of nearly every person, who under the guise of protecting America, would destroy the values that make it great.
Radical Islam gathers recruits by portraying a worldview in which Muslims are persecuted and mistreated by the West. I imagine they would welcome measures like these hearings that could cause divides between the governments of Western Nations and Muslims.

I don’t think these hearings will demonize Muslims, but I also don’t think they’ll do much besides provide a platform for grandstanding on the part of politicians. We’re already pretty aware of radical Islam in the US and its links to terrorism, and to the extent we need to do more research on it, that’s a job for the FBI. I really don’t think there’s much legislation we need, and I don’t know what good hearings will do.

I remember when conservatives were aghast at Janet Reno looking at possible violence by conservative hate groups.

I think the proper response in this case is to let the hearings happen and make them look like idiots as patriotic Muslim Americans testify one after another.

Frnkly, as a muslim, aren’t you more in danger in a muslim country, than in the USA?
If you are a shia muslim in a sunni country, you probably face worse persecution than any muslim in the USA.
Or, if you belong to one of the smaller muslim sects (alawite, druse, ismaeli) you probably have to watch yourself a lot!

Holding hearings to see if there is a security risk inherent in homegrown terrorists in which nobody is charged or acccused (unless there is actual evidence of criminal activity uncovered, I guess) constitutes “persecution and mistreatment”?

So what about the bombing of Christian churches (Iraq, Pakistan) or the assasination of (Christian) Pakistani Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, who had called for changes in the country’s controversial blasphemy law, and who was killed in a gun attack in Islamabad on March 2? What about people like Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who in November 2010 was condemned to death by a Punjab court for making blasphemous remarks against the Prophet Mohammed and now apperars likely to be executed? Or the vicious and little-reported persecution of members of the Bahai faith in Iran? My point is NOT that the west has to retaliate by matching these outrages. NEVER, NEVER should we destroy our precious freedoms and rights.

My point is that in a climate of fanatical Islamism that pervades much of the Islamic world, it takes a self-loathing practitioner of “politically correct guilt” to qualify simple hearings as “persecution and mistreatment”. I doubt if these hearings will even be noticed by most people in the Muslim world.

Do you think Islamic radicals hate Americans because you hold hearings on security issues that logically focus on Muslims in America? They hate you because you are not Muslims and have not submitted to Islam, which they believe must eventually dominate the entire world.

The aforementioned Mr. Ellison is the representative of my congressional district, here in the People’s Repubic of Minnesota. He is about as radical as the average Lutheran. He is likely under more threat of being gunned down for remaining a Muslim than he might be in the event he changes his mind again.

The OP says he’d be fine with a congressional hearing investigating connections between Catholicism and the IRA. If that’s really the OP’s attitude, then he’s certainly got the courage of his convictions. But the rest of us understand that for exactly the same reasons the Catholicism hearing should trouble us, so also a hearing about Islam should trouble us as well.


Hard to imagine the US Congress (successfully) demonizing any group(s) from the pit of disrespect and loathing they currently occupy.

Having said that, any additional incrementation of the Moslem demonic quotient over and above that already enthusiastically generated by their more, shall we say, zealot, element is also hard to imagine.

I imagine 99% or more of the people in Dallas did not want JFK to be shot. What’s your point? Oddly enough, assasins and fanatics don’t abide by majority opinion.

I suppose Mr. Ellison is safe enough as long as he remains a Muslim and remains in the U.S.

But what you have to understand is that for Islamists, the laws of Islam refelect the will of God and apply in the entire world. This is why a Fatwah can be issued from IRAN for the death of Salman Rushdie, an INDIAN Muslim who lives in Britain and is deemed to have insulted Mohammed in a book published in English in the west.

This is why a danish cartoonist who is not even a Muslim and who published his cartoons in Denmark is now living in fear and has already had more than one attempt on his life.

I imagine if Mr. Ellis renounced Islam and remained a Congressman, he would be safe enough in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt because, practically speaking, they would hardly cause an international incident by grabbing and executing a US politician visiting their country. But in the view of hundreds of millions of Muslims, they would be perfectly justified in doing so under Sharia law, or even having a devout American Muslim gun him down in America.

It seems to me that Mr. Ellis would have a natural interest in encouraging hearings to find and root out this kind of murderous fanaticism in America.

What purpose are these hearings supposed to accomplish that could not be done without hearings?

If radicalization of people of any faith is occurring, the government, especially the FBI has the resources to monitor those groups, even though their record shows they are more likely to infiltrate such groups and then incite them to criminal activity so federal prosecutors and politicians can then show what evil people they are.

I would not mind congressional hearings on that topic.

Focusing on the very few individuals of one faith who have engaged in violent behavior while ignoring the hundreds of millions who share that faith and are currently renouncing regimes that engage in far more violent behavior is not the best use of our congressional representatives time I think.

Congressional hearings on how we can best support the transition to democracy for those regimes would be nice though.

So why do you not not say: “I think the proper response to Janet Reno’s suggestion would have been to let the hearings happen and make them look like idiots as patriotic conservative Americans testified one after another.”

Well, I guess you could have said that, but the point is that NOBODY doubts that there are tens of millions of patriotic, peaceful conservatives in the US. However, that fact does not stop someone like Timothy McVeigh (who was obviously a radical conservative with a hatred of “government”) now does it?

The point is not whether the majority of US Muslims are peaceful and patriotic. We say that over and over and over. (Although we can’t seem to say it often enough for some people). The question is whether the existence of this peaceful majority can be trotted out as an excuse to ignore the Muslim versions of Timothy McVeigh.

Put it another way. Holding hearings to see if there is a security risk inherent in Muslims in which there is no upfront evidence of criminal activity uncovered? Yes, sounds like persecution and mistreatment to me. It’s sort of like the police going around to everyone’s house based on limited profiling - except much more public, and with explicit governmental approval.

Certainly there are worse things in the world. I condemn those things with a respectively greater fervour. But being able to point to horrible outrages does not mean that they set a standard against which we ourselves may permit less horrible outrages so long as they fall some subjective point short of the standard.

As to “NEVER, NEVER” destroying our precious rights and freedoms; sometimes a corrupted freedom, a contaminated right, can be more dangerous than a destroyed one.

Those are all bad things, but I don’t think any of them have much to do with homegrown Islamic radicalism and the risk of domestic terrorism, and I don’t see why they would be topics of the hearings.

The reason you don’t see why they would be the topic of the hearings is because I never said they should be.

If you look at my comments in context, I was comparing the alleged “persecution and mistreatment” that would supposedly result from the hearings with REAL persecution and mistreatment in Muslim countries. What I said is:

“My point is that in a climate of fanatical Islamism that pervades much of the Islamic world, it takes a self-loathing practitioner of “politically correct guilt” to qualify simple hearings as “persecution and mistreatment”. I doubt if these hearings will even be noticed by most people in the Muslim world.”

“Do you think Islamic radicals hate Americans because you hold hearings on security issues that logically focus on Muslims in America? They hate you because you are not Muslims and have not submitted to Islam, which they believe must eventually dominate the entire world.”

I must have missed your post back then calling for hearings.

This is absurd.