Rep. King’s Muslim radicalization hearings eerily echo the era of Japanese American internment

Anti-Japanese 1942 article from Washington PostHere’s a post worth reading and thinking about by Eric Muller at Faculty Lounge, “Representative King’s Investigation and the Ghost of Hearings Past” that notes that NY Rep. Peter King’s hearings on the radicalization of Muslims echoes the experience of history during World War II.

Muller points out the race-based hysteria at the start of World War II, when false reports about Japanese Americans’ involvement in espionage and sabotage against the United States led to an atmosphere of hatred for an entire group of people, and warns that we should be careful not to do the same thing today. Those reports weren’t just propagated by the West Coast Hearst newspapers that had been anti-Japanese (and anti-Chinese) for decades, with their drumbeat of “Yellow Peril” stories.

Even the Washington Post (shown here) reported the lies. (For the record no case of espionage or sabotage during the war by anyone of Japanese descent in the US was proven).

So, kudos to the Washington Post of today for “Rep. Peter King’s Muslim hearings: A key moment in an angry conversation” which looks at how the discussion of Muslims might be affected for the worse by King’s hearings.

We’ve seen other examples of how hatred can be easily stoked by leaders who fan the flames of fear in the name of patriotism: Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee hearings blacklisted suspected Communists including government officials and Hollywood celebrities in a gleeful witch hunt.

Let’s not make the same mistake again. I assume King is holding these hearings out of a genuine, if mistaken, patriotism. But I hope these hearings don’t simply lead to a notching up of the often ignorant extreme ideas some Americans have about Muslims (they’re not all terrorists, people) and a blanket indictment of all Muslim Americans.

(Thanks to Densho for the heads-up.)
(Cross-posted from my Posterous blog)

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