King’s hearings: Witch hunt or radical truth?

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA., March 11, 2011 – Controversy swirls around Rep. King’s hearings about “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response” … and some clarification is in order.

First of all, President Obama was very concerned when a staff member mentioned “the King hearings on radical Muslims in America.”  The President firmly stated that he had not called for such hearings nor would he.  Then, he realized the “King” to which his staff member was referring was not the President; it was Rep. Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.  Problem solved!

Let’s also dismiss the idea that these hearings are a “witch hunt.”  If they were, Christine O’Donnell and Charlie Sheen almost certainly would be involved.

In all seriousness, the hearings are walking a tightrope.  Shouts of McCarthyism, internment camps, etc. emanate from the Left.  These are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed.  The First Amendment and an acknowledgment of our past indiscretions should guide us to better analyses and recommendations this time around.

Conversely, Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), recently testified before the House Committee:  “I actually consider Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, with al-Awlaki as a leader within that organization, probably the most significant risk to the U.S. homeland.”   Keep in mind that al-Awlaki’s modus operandi is the recruitment and radicalization of American Muslims.

Even Secretary Napolitano has acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs to focus on domestic terrorism and homegrown radicalization … and Janet usually likes to pretend that everything is under control.  Then again, maybe she’s just referring to Republicans and Tea Party members as “domestic terrorists” since they seem to strike the most fear in her heart.

The most interesting element of this debate is how it reflects upon the disingenuous intellectual terrorism that currently permeates this country.  As The Common Sense Czar, I’m going to exempt most Conservatives and Liberals from this assessment as their differences of opinion can be refereed.  I’m talking about the radical fringes of the Right and the Left that refuse to agree on the day of the week. 

Let’s review a few things:

  • The far Right supports Right to Life but is in favor of the Death Penalty; whereas the far Left is against the Death Penalty but is okay with the killing of unborn babies.
  • The far Right thinks that George Soros is using his money to destroy the Republic but it’s okay for the Koch Brothers to spread some cash around to support the Conservative agenda; whereas the far Left thinks that the Koch Brothers are using their money to destroy the Republic but it’s okay for George Soros to spread some cash around to support the Liberal agenda.
  • The far Right thinks that unions are corrupt organizations that are sucking the life out of America but that the selfish practices of “big business” are not a threat; whereas the far Left thinks that “big businesses” are corrupt organizations that are sucking the life out of America but that the selfish practices of unions are not a threat.
  • The far Right thinks that it’s okay to infer that Muslims, Mosques, etc. should be monitored because of the behavior of a few radicals, but that it’s inappropriate to generalize that gun owners are dangerous as a class because of the behavior of a few radicals; whereas, the far Left thinks that it’s okay to infer that gun owners are dangerous as a class because of the behavior of a few radicals, but that it’s inappropriate to generalize that Muslims, Mosques, etc. should be monitored because of the behavior of a few radicals.

Get the picture?

Apparently, inflammatory language is only wrong when it comes from the other side; juvenile behavior is only insulting when it is associated with the other side; protests are only unruly when they are staged by the other side; death threats only count when they are made by the other side.

An early chapter of The National Platform of Common Sense ponders the application of the “Seven Deadly Sins” to today’s political environment.  Perhaps it’s time to add an eighth to the list:  Incongruity.

Without taking sides on the Wisconsin issue, it was at least entertaining to hear State Senator Spencer Coggs (D-WI) say that “18 Republican Senators stole democracy from the people of the State of Wisconsin” while he has been hiding in Illinois (along with his 13 colleagues) to avoid a democratic vote for the past several weeks.  Incongruity?  You decide.

Without taking sides in the Homeland Security Committee hearings, there are approximately 10 million Muslims in the United States (out of 310 million people).  To suggest that they are all in jeopardy of becoming radicalized is absurd.  To suggest that none of them are susceptible to becoming radicalized is equally absurd. 

During the hearings this week, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) made an eloquent and impassioned plea NOT to “assign collective blame to a whole group” because of the actions of a few.  He said, “This is the very heart of stereotyping and scapegoating.”  He’s absolutely right.

Of course, the same statement would be correct if applied to any of the gross generalizations that are the signatures of the far Right and far Left.  All union members are “thugs.”  All gun owners (and conservative pundits) are responsible for the shootings in Tucson, Arizona.  All illegal immigrants are criminals … or responsible citizens merely in pursuit of the American Dream.  These “absolutes” share only one trait in common:  they are all absolutely wrong.

So, once the current hearings have faded away, let’s start a new round:  “The Extent of Radicalization in American Politics and Reasonable Americans’ Response.” The Common Sense Czar is reminded of two of his father’s adages during The Czar’s formative years:  “An empty barrel makes the most noise” … and “A squeaky wheel gets the most grease.”  If we start to recognize that those who proffer disingenuous intellectual terrorism are really just “empty barrels” … and we can avoid the temptation to instinctively give them “the most grease” (in the form of media attention) …maybe then we can accept the radical truth that there are very few “truths” among radicals, eliminate the sin of Incongruity, and begin to solve our Nation’s problems.


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.


This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times.