read more: Boston Herald

[password]According to the Rev. Al Sharpton, last week’s congressional hearing into “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community” was a modern day “witch hunt.”

Sharpton, who is famous for intentionally leveling false charges of rape and obstruction of justice against innocents, certainly knows about witch hunts. But he’s wrong about these hearings.

The purpose of Thursday’s hearing, the first in a series led by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), was to begin to seek answers to a legitimate and important question: Why have some American Muslims rejected Western notions of freedom and democracy in favor of jihadist anti-Americanism?

It’s a question that deserves careful scrutiny. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, 126 people were indicted for terrorism in 2009 and 2010. Fifty of these are U.S. citizens. Obama administration officials have explained that this statistic reflects a deliberate strategy by al-Qaeda to recruit Americans on their own soil. Congress now seeks to understand how any American could be indoctrinated to support such a hateful cause.

Understandably, some people are worried that the hearings may fuel anti-Muslim sentiment. But rather than work constructively with Congress to craft hearings sensitive to such concerns, provocateurs like Sharpton have behaved irresponsibly, labeling King a bigot and frightening Muslim-Americans into thinking they are under attack from their own government.

To this end, Sharpton and his friends at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have argued that, by focusing exclusively on the Muslim community, Congress is engaging in inappropriate racial-profiling.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The congressional inquiry into radicalization in the Muslim community has nothing to do with race — nor should it. Americans indicted for jihadist terror do not fit neatly into a single sociological profile. They are of different racial and ethnic backgrounds (Caucasian, black, Arab, Southeast Asian and even Hispanic), and they come from varied economic and educational backgrounds (some have graduate degrees while others lack serious education).

The one thing that this eclectic and diverse group of people has in common is their belief system: That is, their adherence to Islamic extremism. It is the roots of this hate-filled ideology — not race, ethnicity or Islam generally — that Congress seeks to illuminate.

We all know that the vast majority of American Muslims are law-abiding patriots and that terrorism (domestic and otherwise) is not exclusive to militant Islam. (To the extent that white, Christian anti-government groups pose a current and ongoing threat to U.S. security, Congress should investigate the roots of such radicalism as well. But that is a separate topic for another day.) Today, the most serious and widespread threat to the United States comes from terrorism committed in the name of Islam. So, logically, Congress must focus on radicalization among Muslims.

Acknowleding the danger posed by homegrown Islamic terrorism is not “Islamophobia.” And investigating the ways in which Americans are recruited to a murderous philosophy is not McCarthyism.

Thursday’s hearing established a factual predicate for further congressional investigation. As we move forward, we should all welcome Congress’s attempt to prevent international terrorist organizations from targeting and co-opting our youth. And we must reject charlatans like Al Sharpton and the leaders of CAIR who traffic in paranoia and fear for their own political purposes.

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