The Council on American-Islamic Relations (as well as other organizations) is not down with the endeavor, saying that the hearings have "sent a shudder through our community." Committee member and Peninsula Democrat Jackie Speier is also not happy with the proceedings. Here's a statement from her web site:
What’s truly radical is profiling and demonizing entire communities of people based on their faith. This mindset flies in the face of the values we stand for as Americans. Radicalization and homegrown terrorism are serious and legitimate concerns that deserve thoughtful examination, not an ideologically motivated charade. Hearings driven by intolerance inflame anti-American sentiment. Our nation deserves better.”
And here's what she said to the Chronicle yesterday.
"This is one member's bias that he is now putting forth as the policy of this country and there are going to be many of us who will shout out and call him out on abusing his role as chair and abusing the Congress of the United States for whatever his personal bias is.
"To pinpoint Muslims as if they're the only category --- it's wrong, it's discriminatory, it's racist and inappropriate. Hearings aren't supposed to be judged before they're held. They're supposed to be illuminating."
"To pinpoint Muslims as if they're the only category --- it's wrong, it's discriminatory, it's racist and inappropriate. Hearings aren't supposed to be judged before they're held. They're supposed to be illuminating," she said.
Speier said Thursday's hearing is all about politics. Specifically, 2012 presidential politics.
"But it's more destructive than a political grandstand for purposes of a 2012 election," she said. "It fuels the feelings of hatred towards Americans by identifying specific groups instead of individuals. Did we go after whites after Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma federal building?"
Here she is denouncing the hearings on the House floor yesterday:
KPCC's Kitty Felde spoke to Speier and other California House members about the hearings for The California Report.
King, for his part, is having none of the criticism. From his opening statement:
I am well aware that the announcement of these hearings has generated considerable controversy and opposition. Some of this opposition -- such as from my colleague and friend Mr. Ellison has been measured and thoughtful. Other opposition - both from special interest groups and the media has ranged from disbelief to paroxysms of rage and hysteria.
Let me make it clear today that I remain convinced that these hearings must go forward. And they will. To back down would be a craven surrender to political correctness and an abdication of what I believe to be the main responsibility of this committee-- to protect America from a terrorist attack.
Despite what passes for conventional wisdom in certain circles, there is nothing radical or un-American in holding these hearings. Indeed, Congressional investigation of Muslim American radicalization is the logical response to the repeated and urgent warnings which the Obama Administration has been making in recent months.