By Michael Goodwin
If you believe the useful idiots, Republican Pete King is a grave threat to the sweet harmony of America. His congressional hearing tomorrow on homegrown Islamic radicals is, The New York Times declares, "designed to stoke fear against Muslim Americans."
It's a scurrilous charge, but also an odd one, even for the hysterics at the Times editorial page. To make it, they had to ignore terror warnings from the Obama administration, with which the paper has a mutual slobbering relationship. Both Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano recently raised red flags not against the hearing -- but against the very threat of homegrown Islamists that King is investigating.
"It is one of the things that keeps me up at night," Holder said. "The threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens -- raised here, born here, and who, for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation."
Napolitano warned about Americans "who have become radicalized and associated with al Qaeda or Islamist terrorism beliefs and techniques and tactics."
Even President Obama's national security adviser, Denis McDonough, whose Sunday speech to a Muslim group the Times said was designed to counter King, concedes the radicalization point.
"McDonough called me before he gave the speech," King told me yesterday. "He said go ahead with the hearing. He said it's serious, and we want Congress to be involved."
Against that backdrop, King, the new chairman of the House panel on Homeland Security, would be derelict if he didn't dig into the issue. With over 50 domestic-terror plots uncovered in the last two years, an average of nearly one every two weeks, the hearings are long overdue.
"This is the threat that faces our country," he said. "Al Qaeda and groups like it said they are trying to radicalize members of the American Muslim community. We've got to face it."
He is clear-eyed about the need to thread the needle between demonizing all Muslims and exposing the truth about how some mosques and prisons act as breeding grounds for terrorists. He also remains refreshingly blunt in escaping the handcuffs of political correctness.
"If the problem was the White Citizens Council, it wouldn't make any sense to investigate African Americans," he said.
His refrain that "the overwhelming majority of American Muslims are good people" is coupled with the charge that they have been "misled and betrayed" by many Islamic advocacy organizations. He cites CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which calls itself a Muslim civil-rights organization even though the Justice Department labeled it an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a 2007 case involving terrorist funding by groups pretending to be Islamic charities.
With enemies like that, King is on safe ground to explore the danger. His witness list tomorrow will include Christian and Muslim families who saw loved ones turn radical.
"We want to show how systemic it is, how the programming works," he said. He mentioned one black American who grew distant from his family, then took down his poster of Martin Luther King Jr. and gave away the family dog as he opted for jihad.
"One of the requirements for recruits is that they have to cut off all connections with their prior life," he said.
Rep. King often has been at odds with Obama's team, but he believes the gap is closing, citing the shared concern on homegrown terror and the decision to restart military trials and keep some terrorists in prison without trials.
"They realize the world is a lot more dangerous than they thought it was when they first came in," he said.
We can only hope. Meanwhile, we have King to thank for daring to dig into an inconvenient truth.