The Daily Gamecock

Fear of American Muslims unfounded

Rep. Peter King's claims of radicalization remind nation of McCarthyism

Fear is the enemy of rationality.

It was hatred and fear of communism that led Joseph McCarthy to investigate whether communists had infiltrated America's political system in the early 1940s. It is a very similar fear and hatred of Islam that has led Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House of Representatives' Homeland Security Committee, to investigate the radicalization of American Muslims.

HakeemJefferson01King has not always held negative views about Muslims or Islam. Prior to 9/11, King was respected by those who saw him as a friend of Muslims living in the United States and abroad. Like many others, however, King seems to have had a change of heart after 9/11.

In a 2004 interview with Sean Hannity, King remarked that "no American Muslim leaders are cooperating in the war on terror," and claimed that "80-85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists." In a 2007 interview with, King, sounding remarkably like Joseph McCarthy, said that "There are too many mosques in this country ... There are too many people sympathetic to radical Islam. We should be looking at them more carefully and finding out how we can infiltrate them."

These are not the statements of an uneducated citizen whose only source of news are forwarded e-mails that claim the president was born in Kenya and is secretly carrying out a radical Muslim agenda. These are the statements of a man who has been entrusted with the task of helping to keep our country safe while upholding our nation's obligations to its citizens.

As King engages in political theater and scores political points with his base, Muslims living in towns and cities across the this country will likely experience increased hatred from those who question whether they too embrace the perversion of Islam used to justify attacks on this country and others. For those who might be convinced that King is right in his claims that American Muslims are becoming more and more susceptible to radicalization and are sympathetic to those who hate America, let me introduce you to my friend, Muhammed, my roommate this summer in a program we participated in at Duke University. Muhammed is a senior at the University of Washington. His parents immigrated to the United States from Eritrea and he and his family are devout Muslims. I watched as Muhammed prayed two or three times a day in the room we shared and watched as he left events early to attend Friday prayer. Did I sleep with one eye open because my roommate was Muslim? Did I worry that Muhammed posed a threat to my safety or that he would hurt me because we have different religious beliefs? Of course not.

Muhammed loves America just as much as I do. He condemns terrorism just as loudly as I do. And contrary to the McCarthy-like claims made by King, the majority of American Muslims do as well.