Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Anti-Muslim hearing is an affront to patriotic Americans

Opinion: Anti-Muslim hearing is an affront to patriotic Americans

This week, Republican Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, held a narrowly focused hearing on the supposed radicalization of American Muslims and homegrown terrorism.
After watching the devastation of the Oklahoma City bombing and Sept. 11, we must protect our citizens against terrorism originating from both within our borders and abroad. But I want to make clear to Peter King that Islam is not a terrorist organization, it is a religion. And Muslims living in the United States are not terrorists, they are Americans.
Muslims in America are from every background. They come from every corner of the world. They are white, black, Asian and other. They have immigrated to the United States, and they have been born here. They have traveled the world, and they have never left the United States. And while they may all share common beliefs, as a group, they are also patriots.
The committee's witch hunt for Muslim radicals will do little to make our nation safer. That's because it chose to target Muslims without evidence that there is a legitimate threat. The result is a conviction in the trial of the public arena, giving some in our society a chance to deepen their prejudices against Muslims....

....But many Americans remember a time when freedom was not something you took for granted. Over the past century, minority groups have seen their freedoms curtailed for political purposes. Let us not forget that the words "national security" were used to send 120,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps in desolate parts of the country, causing them to lose everything they had. They were convicted in the trial of the public arena and put into prison camps with guns pointed at them. This is despite the fact that three-quarters of them were U.S. citizens. To this day, not a single act of espionage was proven.
King's hearing broadly targets an entire community solely on their faith and runs counter to the core values and beliefs that our nation was founded upon. While our nation has not always lived up to the promise of freedom, we as Americans must unite around the core belief in freedom for all our people.

JUDY CHU (D-32nd Congressional District, including East Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley) is chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and is the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress. She wrote this for this newspaper.

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