Peter King is a longtime GOP congressman from Long Island who, through longevity and bellicosity, has netted the chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee in the new, far-right dominated House of Representatives. To anyone familiar with American political history, the committee's name should provoke at least a mild shudder. It's a near match to House Internal Security Committee which, in fact, was nothing more than the rechristened old House Committee on Un-American Affairs. You know-- the witch hunt vehicle.
That committee by any other name would stink as bad and King is doing his best to boost the stink-o-meter by holding hearings on "radical Islam" beginning this week. His garbled justifications always circle back to his perception that American Muslims are insufficiently loyal to the state; that is, they may not take to bomb making themselves, but they aren't quick enough to turn in those that do. Why, one might almost call them "fellow travelers" (there goes that shudder again).
Aside from being not much more than politicized paranoia, King's stance is also the rankest hypocrisy. For until Sept. 11, 2001 -- when it became too politically perilous to appear one -- King was a prominent, loudmouthed supporter of the Irish Republican Army. He promoted Noraid, a charitable organization widely suspected of diverting its funds to the purchase of weapons. He hung out with Gerry Adams before the Sinn Fein leader agreed to negotiate for a peace agreement. While the IRA was committing some of its worst outrages, he called it "the legitimate voice of occupied Ireland." (That quote and other nuggets of information can be found in a 2005 New York Sun piece which is a pretty good encapsulation of King's other republicanism.)
Can you imagine King's response to a Congressional investigation of Irish-Catholic Americans in, say, 1980? Notice I don't say IRA supporters because, in his investigation, King isn't focused on "Islamic terrorists," just American Muslims. Not on criminals, but on people who know about them.
Just like all of us Irish-Catholic Americans who knew about a bigmouth Noraid supporter who'd fart his way down 5th avenue every March 17.