A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute indicates that 56% of Americans believe that the upcoming congressional hearings on the alleged radicalization of the American Muslim community are a good idea. However, and more encouraging, 72% of respondents believe that Congress should investigate all forms of extremism in the US rather than focusing exclusively on Muslims. In other words, a large majority of Americans realize that extremism in all forms is a threat to the nation’s security and one religious group shouldn’t be targeted for investigation. Despite pleas to broaden the hearings to include other forms of extremism, Rep. Peter King asserts that doing so would dilute the hearings and pander to those who call for political correctness. Judging by this survey, however, it appears that a vast majority of Americans would disagree.
In addition to these findings, the survey determined that 46% of all Americans believe that American Muslims have not done enough to prevent extremism in their own communities. Yet, Peter Gottschalk, chairman of the religion department at Wesleyan University and co-author of “Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy,” words it aptly when he says that “There’s a double standard that Muslims are responsible for extremism by people who happen to be Muslim, but all Christians aren’t responsible for abortion clinic bombers or the KKK.” I hope that Rep. King reevaluates the message his hearings are sending to the American Muslim community and considers the fact that all forms of extremism are a threat to national security.
Click here to listen to Public Religion Research Institute Founder and CEO Dr. Robby Jones discuss these findings and their implications on the February 26, 2011 edition of State of Belief Radio. You’ll also hear Rev. Mark Lukens, President of Interfaith Alliance of Long Island, on opposition efforts within Rep. King’s district, as well as Arielle Gingold, Deputy Director for Public Policy at Interfaith Alliance, on the work being done at the national level to oppose this attempt at what many are calling the “New McCarthyism.” (Please note, these are extended versions of the interviews originally broadcast nationwide.) -Ed.