National Commentary

A New McCarthy?

Is Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the new Joe McCarthy? Heaven forbid. I lived through that shameful era when some Americans were ostracized for being leftist or “pinkos” as they were branded.

Is Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the new Joe McCarthy? Heaven forbid. I lived through that shameful era when some Americans were ostracized for being leftist or “pinkos” as they were branded.

The Wisconsin Republican and his team of lawyers, including Roy Cohn and David Schine, traveled from country to country demonizing American diplomats.

King has tried to take the country back to an era of fear – this time against Americans of Muslim faith. He is calling some Muslims “a threat” to this country. King’s goal has been dubbed a “witch hunt.”

As chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, at the opening of the hearings, King stated he was more convinced than ever that the hearings were “appropriate.”

The hearings spotlight the division in this country regarding Muslims and mosques. No one apparently mentioned Timothy McVeigh, the homegrown militia member who brought a truck load of explosives to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City, causing many casualties among government workers. But that is a different story. King wants to know how radicalized is the Muslim community, and what is its potential to harm America.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Muslim, broke down and cried as he spoke of Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old medical technician who rushed into a building at the World Trade Center to rescue victims of 9/11. He was killed when the building collapsed.

King’s vendetta against terror is ironic because he wholeheartedly backed the Irish Republican Army, which was branded as an “Irish terrorist organization.”

One witness, Melvin Bledsoe, a Memphis business leader, testified that “our children are in danger.”

“It seems to me that Americans are sitting around, doing nothing about radical extremists,” continued Bledsoe.

“There is nothing radical or un-American in holding these hearings,” King said. The hearings are billed to deal with the extent of the radicalization of the Muslim American community.

King’s search would do best to ask why any Muslim would be against our great country which provides so many freedoms of speech, opinion and belief.

But he is not seeking in-depth answers. Is there any reason some Muslims might be unhappy that their home country was under attack by the U.S.? Not that any terrorism is ever justifiable.

The McCarthy era is a dark chapter in our history. Many Americans lost their jobs when they refused to sign a “loyalty oath.” Many Hollywood actors, directors and writers were blacklisted, fired from their jobs, and even committed suicide.

McCarthy was dedicated to cleaning out the State Department of any liberals and caused great havoc to American foreign policy. It took years for the Eisenhower administration to recover. He put all government servants under siege.

It was a period of great suspicion and insecurity, but it showed what one man could do to hurt the fabric of our country. Anyone who lived through that era could never forget the harm that was done.

What is unique about the King hearings is that they are not a search for answers – they focus on fear that could lead to mayhem. That is not King’s motive – he has already made up his mind about any Muslim threat.

If there is a real threat from Muslims, the law enforcement officers are in charge, and due process is the right of all Americans.

What does radicalization mean? Rep. King should be asked this question. Is he going to decide to diminish the freedoms of every American Muslim and declare them guilty?

Sen.McCarthy ended his life as a tragic figure, after a dignified Senator, Ralph Flanders (R-Vt.) walked down the Senate aisle and handed McCarthy the senate vote to censor him. It was a damning blow.

Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-Maine) added her voice in an electrifying speech on the Senate floor when she called for a “declaration of conscience.” With that it was all over for McCarthy. King should take heed.

When he singles out any group and demonizes them, without evidence, he has gone much too far. In fact, King may soon regret that he took on an issue that really belongs in the Department of Justice. He has frightened many Americans and their families who are true patriots, but he is painting them with a broad brush.