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Chan Lowe: House Muslim hearings


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There are two kinds of “American Way.” The one we prefer to dwell upon is the one based on idealistic principles like fairness, equality, and opportunity. The Bill of Rights embodies this kind of American Way. It’s the kind that prompts a tightening of the throat when we hear God Bless America being sung.

The other is the characterization we all too often tend to slide into as a nation: vindictive, xenophobic, paranoid, isolationist, racist, willfully ignorant.

While our better sides define our nationhood by a concept and not by race, ethnicity, religion or culture, our worse sides find that we need an “other” to demonize in order to achieve that warm “e pluribus unum” feeling. There was a time when the “other” was black, and we repressed him. Or he was an Indian, and we massacred him. Or he was a Communist, and we ruined him professionally and personally. Now, our most convenient goat has become the American Muslim.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, with his hearings on the so-called radicalization of American Muslims, is poised to follow in the footsteps of Sen. Joseph McCarthy⎯whose tactics against suspected Communists were so ruthless they earned him an “ism” after his name. Congressman King ought to be ashamed, but that would be to credit him with an awareness of his actions in the context of the darker side of our history that he surely does not possess.

King, sadly, has fallen prey to the other “American Way.” It’s easy and tempting for the rest of us to do the same. Let us hope, for all our sakes, that the better angels of our nature haven’t abandoned us.

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Comments

It appears like you have not done much reasearch on this issue. Maybe Peter King is on to something you aren't aware of ??????


Mr. Emanuel, maybe you forget how dark and dangerous Joe McCarthy and his HUAC were. I'm surprised someone with a Jewish sounding last name would even dare to defend King's tactics since Jews were often the target of McCarthy's smear campaigns to ferret out "Commies". Americans' collective response to McCarthy very much resembled 1920's Germans' response to Hitler and Naziism.

I'm not here saying there is any similarity between being an terrorist who claims Islam and simply being Jewish (although people who are radically Hasidic or Chabad often pursue pressure tactics that make you wonder what God they are worshipping), but I do agree with Lowe that the American response to those dangers cannot invoke demonization or demagougery of Muslims simply because they believe in the Koran. Otherwise we become the exact demon we are trying to exorcise and are then in no moral position to claim superiority or righteousness. Allah, God and Jehovah are all the same thing or being as described by three different people--like three blind guys touching the same elephant, but giving a different description because one has the ear, one has the leg and the other has the trunk.

The only thing Peter King is onto is that you can play into people's basest fears to turn them into monsters. Lynch mobs were always full of smiling children as were crowds at Inquisition witch burnings and Jew baiting days at the Roman Coliseum. Maybe you should review YOUR history, champ.


"Willfully ignorant" is the best description of the Islamophobic campaign. They do not know what they're attacking and _do not want to know_.


I was a teenager during the Army-Mc Carthy hearings.....
Yes- History repeat's itself.....over & over.....
The "them" may change, but the hate & fear of "others" remain the same...

"Have You No Sense Of Decency".? Those words by Joseph Welch bear repeating in today's world....and the beat goes on & on......


This is so true...


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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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