Representative Peter King: A Joe McCarthy Redux and A Different Kind of King

On Thursday, Representative Peter King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, begins what is basically a reincarnation of the subversive hunting House Un-American Activities Committee. H.U.A.C. from 1938 to 1975 was initially chaired by Texas Democrat Martin Dies Jr., from 1938 to 1944, that targeted free thinkers, internationalists, peace activists who were alleged to have primarily communist-party affiliation in the United States. Frequently forgotten is the period of McCarthyism before McCarthy: this means prior to Senator Joe McCarthy’s (Republican of Wisconsin) Wheeling, West Virginia speech in 1950, there had been almost sixteen years of loyalty oaths, unfounded accusations of communist affiliation and the suppression of internationalists opposed to the hyperpower’s imperial ambitions during the Cold War.

Representative King, who is a frequent voice of unreason on cable, is the latest of a series of American politicians that use the vulnerability of ethnic minorities to advance their political careers. Even through an Executive Order, the great President Franklin Delano Roosevelt engaged in this execrable practice with his egregious and monstrous relocation of 110,000 Japanese Americans into ten concentration camps during the Second World War. Only the United States and Germany constructed concentation camps that targeted ethnic nationalities during the war. In Germany’s case not only Jews were herded into the camps but also gays, Roma, POW, communists and the like. Only in the US were ALL the internees of a sole racial and ethnic background. I am not referring to the casualties in the camps but the ethnicity of the victims that confer upon the United States a unique place in the history of racialism.

The effort of Mr King, a New York Congressperson from Long Island, to single out American Muslims is racist. Absolutely. When a single race is investigated with the express purpose of marginalising them and thwarting their upward assimilative aspirations, it is racism. It is prejudice; it is animus toward American Muslims. The term “racism” is used too often as an ad hominem attack. However, as one who teaches African American history and having published numerous works on Mexican labour and immigration in the U.S., I believe that the specific accusation that Mr King is a racist is borne out by his projected hearings that begin this Thursday. If one can accept the fact that he is an overt racist and prove it, then actions must be taken to challenge this individual from undermining American internal security and stability with these provocative and damaging hearings.

A tragic byproduct of this investigation’s obsessive concentration on only alleged Islamic terrorism or radicalism is its chilling effect to deter free inquiry on the very causes of radicalism Mr King purports to dread. He fails to address the damage of our unyielding support of Israeli occupation and settlement expansionsim in the West Bank. He fails to acknowledge Israel’s colonial possessions in Gaza as well. He fails to even analyse the causes of so-called “Islamofascim” and terrorism. These McCarthyite hearings ignore legitimate and heartfelt concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians. Mr King is unapologetic is in his support of Israel; it is the only country in the world which is virtually off limits to any robust debate over the challenges to American national security and vital interests.. This sweeping and almost universal demand for uncritifal acceptance of Israeli aggression was pitifully seen again with a United States veto of a Security Council Resolution declaring illegal the continued land grab and despoliation of the Palestinians through settlement construction. I would prefer Mr King would investigate as well the Israel Lobby and the damage to our nation of an Israeli-centered foreign policy in the Middle East and to reflect upon the CAUSES of the 9/11 attacks. Rage against the United States is not merely to be challenged with violence and charges of subversion but assessed through honest and reflective study of our own actions as an imperialistic, aggressive nation.

The New York Republican Congressperson is a different kind of King. The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr gave his life and dedicated his career to prevent Jim Crow, to wipe out state-sponsored racialism, to indeed insure that the Fourteenth Amendment’s demand for “equal protection of the laws” was enforced. Now we have a different kind of King: a racist, a hate-filled Islamophobe who disregards so emphatically the basic values of this country. He should be robustly resisted and forced through non-violent direct action to cancel his inquisition. We need a Tahrir Square of protest against hate mongering in this nation.

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