On March 10th, 2011, Representative (Republican – NY) Peter King and the Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on domestic radicalization, which took place in Washington, D.C. However in this hearing, Peter King targeted only Muslim Americans as he accused them and ONLY them for being possible terrorists. Never mind the numerous other extremists factions that exist in the country (such as the KKK) that pose a threat to U.S. national security, King is having his magnifying glass set only on the Muslim American community.
Representative (Dem – Cali) Mike Honda spoke out vehemently against this hearing and organizations such as the JACL has issued a press release that they stand with the Muslim American community on this matter.
But what do I think of Peter King’s efforts in all of this?
First of all, I want to say that I am extremely proud of my Asian American community who are jumping up to stand with their Muslim brothers and sisters in this matter. And they should be, because this is not the first time the U.S. government has targeted a single group of people. During World War II, they investigated Japanese Americans to find possible spies living amongst the community. Not too long after, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 on February 19th, 1942. This act sent over 120,000 Japanese Americans to internment camps and left an ugly stamp on Asian Americans that even if they were born here, they will never be accepted as an American.
After nearly 60 years, it is clear to see that we are still not seen as Americans that can be trusted.
But if I can set aside my anger on this issue, if I can look at this from Peter King’s perspective, I believe I can get a glimpse of why he thinks this is a good idea. I’m not going to get into political talk and complicated jargons of homeland security this and possible splinter cell terrorist threats that to tell you why I understand King thinks this hearing is a good idea. I’m gonna boil it down to a simple question: Where do his ideas to target a single group of people come from?
It comes from ignorance, plain and simple.
Peter King is just that: ignorant. But the thing is, I don’t mean to insult him. I mean that in the same way any human being can be ignorant about any issue. Because in the same way, I must look at myself and realize that I am ignorant about so many things. And so then, I must ask myself: who has helped me understand when I didn’t understand something? And how was it done?
Who will help Peter King understand? What will it take King to understand that Muslim Americans are Americans just like everybody else? For me, my response is that in this ever growing and diversifying fabric of what it means to be an American, one must be willing to go outside their comfort zones and communicate with the world around them.
I want to end this article with a call to action. Write a message to Peter King and tell him that it is WRONG to accuse a single group of people just because a fraction of the population happens to disavow any respect to human life.
This is where you as 8Asian readers can come in. Make a difference and have your voice be heard. Write a message to him, tweet about this, write blog posts and share on Facebook…use the Internet at your disposal to create noise. I ask you all to join the rest of the Asian American community as we stand together to fight this ignorance.
For inspiration, please take a look at this stellar example from one of my friends at This Is What Jihad Looks Like.