In Times Square last Sunday, an estimated 1,000 people gathered to protest the March 10 hearings before Rep. Peter King's Committee on Homeland Security titled "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response." The protesters called the hearings a "witch hunt." The term is used to disparage people who believe there are terrorists and potential terrorists hiding among us. Events dating back long before Sept. 11, 2001, prove there are.
The witness list is incomplete. It includes Abdirizak Bihi, a Somali immigrant living in Minneapolis who, as director of the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center, works with Somali youth to dissuade them from turning radical. Bihi told Richard Meryhew and Allie Shah of the Star Tribune that he committed himself to working with young people after his 18-year-old nephew, Burhan Hassan, was recruited to fight in Somalia and then was "shot in the head after refusing an order."
Another witness is Melvin Bledsoe, father of Carlos Bledsoe (aka Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad). In 2009, Muhammad, a Muslim convert, gunned down two soldiers outside a military recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark. One soldier died. Muhammad had spent 16 months in Yemen. In a handwritten letter to the presiding judge in his case, Muhammad, claiming ties to al-Qaida, said he carried out the attack "because he was mad at the U.S. military because of what they had done to Muslims in the past."
Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat and one of two Muslim members of Congress, is also a scheduled witness, as is Rep. Frank Wolf, Virginia Republican. Ellison will no doubt warn us against stereotyping Muslims because of the actions of "a few." But what if those "few" (and it doesn't take many to kill, as we have seen) are hiding among peaceful Muslims? Can authorities locate them?
In these hearings, and in dealing with the radicalization problem in general, do we fully understand that radical Muslims believe their religion allows them to lie to "infidels" and to advance their cause of creating a world Islamic caliphate? Shouldn't that make us wary of their testimony?
People more knowledgeable than those on King's witness list will not be testifying, though some have been invited to submit written statements. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum would be one useful expert. So would Steve Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Ditto historian and Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis, who knows as much about the beliefs and political agenda of radical Islamists as anyone alive.
Even if Pipes, Emerson and Lewis had been invited to testify, what difference would it have made? With the White House bending over backward to deny the undeniable — that radicals are among us and new ones are being recruited to kill Americans and harm our economy — what action would government authorities take to root them out, arrest, or deport them? Could politicians stand against cries of "Islamophobia" and "Nazi tactics" that would predictably be hurled at them?
In a nation obsessed with Charlie Sheen and celebrity, the media are unlikely to practice the kind of serious investigative journalism necessary to warn the public of another Sept. 11.
Given these undeniable truths, witches don't look so bad.
E-mail Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES