By Jeremy B. White
After months of withering attacks for his hearings on Muslim radicalization, Congressman Peter King got to play the critic today, when Illinois Senator Dick Durbin announced he'll hold his own committee hearing on civil rights in the Muslim-American community.
"Why not have a hearing on everyone's civil rights?" King said. "Since they told me I should have my hearings on not just Muslim radicalization but radicalization in all communities, I would say why doesn't the Senate have a hearing on everyone's civil rights?"
King noted that the F.B.I.'s numbers show anti-Semitic attacks outnumbered instances of hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. last year by about nine to one, and that attacks on Christians and Muslims were about equal. (Of course, Christians far outnumber Muslims in the U.S., and there are about three times as many Jews as Muslims.)
"If you are in a fevered time there's always going to be some reaction," King said. "I'm not trying to excuse it, I'm just saying in the overall context it's sometimes more dangerous to be Jewish than Muslim."
A press release from Durbin's office cited "restrictions on mosque construction," as an example of rising anti-Muslim sentiment, but King denied that opposition to new mosques--including his fierce opposition to the so-called "Ground Zero mosque" in downtown Manhattan--should be considered an example of prejudice.
King declined to speculate on whether Durbin's hearing was in response to his Muslim radicalization hearings.
"I would hate to try to read the mind of a senator," King said.