Høringen i Kongressen om ekstremisme og radikalisering blant USAs muslimer vakte sterke følelser, på begge sider. Der demokratene ser en ny mccarthyisme, ser republikanerne unnfallenhet og feighet.
Skulle USA oppleve et nytt terrorangrep er det demokratene som har størst fallhøyde.
Retorikken var usedvanlig skarp under den fire timer lange høringen. King har fått voldsom kritikk for i det hele tatt å arrangere en slik høring.
Spørsmålene republikanerne stilte var: er muslimene lojale mot USA? sier de fra om ekstremister blant dem? tar myndighetene radikaliseringen på alvor? Tar muslimske talsmenn og organisasjoner radikaliseringen på alvor?
Bare det å stille disse spørsmålene er et brudd på borgerrettighetene, mente demokratene. Det er å diskriminere en bestemt gruppe.
Debatten dreide seg ikke bare om nasjonal sikkerhet. Den gikk til kjernen av hva det vil si å være amerikaner, slik debatten i Europa handler om hva det vil si å være norsk eller dansk.
The debate wasn’t simply about civil rights versus national security; it was about legitimacy and identity. And the confrontations were at times so visceral that they eclipsed the subject of terrorism.
Det er hele det liberale samfunn med sine individuelle rettigheter og plikter som er under debatt.
Flere demokratiske representanter er på disse punktene mer «venstreorienterte» enn de er på andre områder. Identity politics er dypt polariserende og har vært det i lang tid.
There were many invocations of hearings past. Representative John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat whose district includes a large Muslim population, began his testimony by telling colleagues that when he led hearings, he kept a picture of Senator Joe McCarthy on the wall, “so that I would know what it is I did not want to look like.”
Representative Laura Richardson, Democrat of California, was one of those who objected on principle to the inquiry’s focus on Muslims, comparing this hearing to “shocking films of American leaders in the ’40s and ’50s, disgracefully violating the principle on which this country was founded.” Ms. Richardson added: “The only difference is that those shows were in black and white. This one is in color.”
Mange av kritikerne hevdet både før og under høringen at den er ubalansert, og mistenkeliggjør en bestemt gruppe. Men en republikaner minnet om at dette er et irrelevant argument.
Representative Dan Lungren, Republican of California, took umbrage at the notion that it was unfair to focus solely on Muslim American extremists, citing past hearings on youth gang violence. “We didn’t talk about non-youth gang violence,” he said.
Demokratene hadde Keith Ellison til å balansere og vise en annen side av muslimer i Amerika:
Representative Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat who is Muslim, wept as he recounted the story of Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old volunteer medical technician who rushed to help when the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001 — and died in the building’s collapse. Mr. Ellison barely finished his testimony, breaking down as he described how, when Mr. Hamdani disappeared, his religion fueled suspicions that he was part of the plot — rumors put to rest by the discovery of his remains.
Men mot dette sto vitnemålene fra grasrota:
But two other witnesses — Melvin Bledsoe, a Memphis businessman, and Abdirizak Bihi of the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center in Minneapolis — offered their own compelling narratives of how their relatives embraced Islamic extremism.
“Our children are in danger,” Mr. Bledsoe warned, as he told lawmakers of how his son Carlos had converted to Islam in college and traveled to Yemen, where he was “trained and programmed” to kill. After returning to the United States, he opened fire on a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Ark., killing one soldier and wounding another. Mr. Bihi’s nephew was recruited to Somalia, where he died.
“It seems to me that Americans are sitting around doing nothing about radical extremists,” Mr. Bledsoe said, adding, “This is a big elephant in the room.”
Hvis høringen demonstrerte at det muslimske samfunn er splittet, så gjelder det samme for det politiske Amerika:
As Thursday’s session wound down, one attendee, Laurie Jagh, who works for a nonprofit group and lives in the Northern Virginia suburbs, home to a large Muslim population, said she was left with one overarching impression.
“I was struck,” she said, “by how divided we are as a country.”