and witch hunts: Congressman Peter King and the new McCarthyism
By Paul J Balles
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 21, 2011
Paul J. Balles considers US Congressman Peter King’s
McCarthyist witch hunt against America’s Muslim community in the context of
the primitive need for scapegoating and witch hunting.
There's a sick mentality in the world that demands
scapegoats and feeds witch hunts.
is the practice of singling out any party for unmerited negative treatment
or blame. A scapegoat may be a child, employee, peer, ethnic or religious
group or country,"
Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, one of the most famous short stories ever
written, reveals the evils of village scapegoating.
The village has an annual lottery resulting in the
winner being stoned to death. Explaining what she hoped the story would
convey, Shirley Jackson said:
Pointless, inhuman activity
"I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite
in the present and in my own village, to shock the story's readers with a
graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in
their own lives.”
violence and general inhumanity still reign supreme in tribes, villages,
countries and the world.
function in part on established ritual. Often, the only thing required to
enshrine a new scapegoat is a compulsive need for someone to despise.
It doesn't matter who wins the lottery; and it makes no
difference what happens to the winner. The winner is always the loser.
If it happens that the chosen scapegoat has multiple
numbers, the next step can become a witch hunt.
The term "witch-hunt" since the 1930s has been used as
a metaphor to refer to moral panics in general (frantic persecution of
out that "This usage is especially associated with the Second Red
Scare of the 1950s (the McCarthyist persecution of communists in the United
US Congressman Peter King “apparently decided that Islam
is to be the scapegoat for America's ills; and he is now on
a witch hunt for Muslims to burn.”
That brings us to the present and US Congressman Peter King. As chairman
of the House Homeland Security Committee, King is holding hearings to
investigate the domestic threat of what he calls the "radicalization of the
American Muslim community”.
King apparently decided that Islam is to
be the scapegoat for America's ills; and he is now on a witch hunt for
Muslims to burn. King’s anti-Islamic bias discredits him as a bigot.
According to the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson: “King once
complained that ‘we have too many mosques in this country’ (USA), and on
another occasion offered the ludicrous opinion that ‘80 to 85 per cent of
mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists.’ His
claim to be free of anti-Muslim bias lacks credibility.”
putting it mildly. Adding to his statement about 85 per cent of the mosques
in the US being controlled by Muslim extremists, King told Sean Hannity of
Fox News, that they make up "an enemy living amongst us".
have mosques coloured King's bigotry. He complained that “There are too many
people sympathetic to radical Islam. We should be looking at them more
carefully and finding out how we can infiltrate them.”
accused Muslims of failing to help expose terrorist plots in America. This
is patently untrue, as Charles Kurzman, University of North Carolina
terrorist expert, reveals: "...in exposing alleged terrorist plots, the
largest single source of initial information (48 of 120 cases) involved tips
from the Muslim American community".
If King had a serious concern
about a lack of Muslim cooperation with the authorities, he would have
invited Muslim leaders to his hearings. He has invited only one.
should have invited law enforcement officials to corroborate or correct the
biased figures he has been spouting. He did not.
Witch hunts like
King's do nothing to increase security. They feed fear and breed hatred.
According to a Time magazine poll, 43 per cent of Americans view
Scapegoating and witch hunts have always been
pointless, inhumane activities.
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