What exactly was objectionable about the Congressional hearing on Thursday on terrorist sympathies within the Muslim American community? Representative Peter T. King of New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, was compared to Senator Joseph McCarthy for proceeding with the public hearing. His action was compared to past events “disgracefully violating the principle on which this country was founded.”
Really? What principle is that? Free speech and the first amendment of the Constitution?
Everyone who testified at Thursday’s hearing did so voluntarily. No one’s presence was required by subpoena. The witnesses invited to testify by the Republican majority and by the Democratic minority included the head of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy; Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress; relatives of young Americans recruited into Muslim terrorist organizations; and the sheriff of Los Angeles County.
Did any witness say anything that would have justified canceling the hearing? Apparently not, since the criticism was directed at Chairman Peter King for holding the hearing rather than at any of the testimony actually given.
Chairman King feels that recruitment of Muslim Americans into terrorist organizations is a real and growing threat to the nation. The hearings were intended to cast light upon the nature of that threat.
My friends in the American Civil Liberties Union tell me that the right response to speech you find objectionable is never to ban the speech. The right response, they say, is always more speech. That sounds right to me in this case.