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Published:March 9th, 2011 14:30 EST

Deficit Hawk Rep. Peter King Starts a Muslim-Baiting Witch Hunt

By Djelloul (Del) Marbrook (Editor/Mentor)

If the Republicans were as worried about the national debt as they claim to be they`d shut down Rep. Peter King`s witch hunt. Even an initial whiff of it has cost more than it`s worth.

King, the New York congressman who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, plans to start hearings Thursday on the radicalization of Muslims in the United States. He`d do better to conduct hearings on the radicalization of his own party.

America is besieged by radicals, and most of them aren`t Muslims. In fact, the world is besieged by them, because poverty and hopelessness breed them. Congress would better serve us to hold hearings on the nature of the unrest in the Arab world.

The demonstrators, as they reveal themselves on Facebook and elsewhere on the web, hardly seem to be radicals. They seem, rather, to be people sick of oppression and hopelessness. In fact, they seem very like the millions of Americans who are being screwed every day by our capitalist elite.

What we really need hearings about is whether we can retool capitalism to serve all of us instead of people living in gated estates and high-rise palaces.

But instead King is making much ado about wasting more of our tax dollars hunting for demons in our Muslim communities when he knows damned well there are demons in every community just waiting to hijack the bandwagon of dissatisfaction.

We have at least as many Christian radicals as we have Muslim, as the recent Supreme Court decision allowing a Baptist group to picket military funerals with anti-gay and other signs (such as Thank God for Dead Soldiers ") just reminded us. We have wing nuts and nut jobs of every stripe and ilk. But King knows American Muslims are vulnerable, and he`s counting on the rest of us not to deplore his creepy attention grab.

King is an opportunist. Just like the Bush-Cheney crowd that have bankrupted us with a stupid incursion into Iraq to make their already rich pals richer.

In the Middle Ages Christians scared themselves half to death demonizing Saracens (Arabs, People of the Dawn) and Jews. They wove wondrous tapestries depicting Saracens with horns and tails and devilish leers. They bankrupted England and quite a few other countries to send armies of looters called Crusaders east where they ransacked and pillaged Christian as well as Muslim lands. It was a great employment project, but it had very little to do with faith and a great deal to do with greed and the distraction of the poor and suffering masses. Sound familiar?

The first official act of the First Crusade was to slaughter innocent Jews in the Mainz region of what is now Germany.

Putting aside ethnographic considerations, the main thing Jews and Muslims have in common is their demonization by Christians. Enter Rep. Peter King, a new and much more dubious Peter the Hermit preaching a crusade in the guise of legitimate inquiry. His is an old and wicked story. The hearings he is about to start will do immeasurable damage to our image in the Muslim world. That world knows a witch hunt when it sees one because its own rulers have so often launched them. It will see the hypocrisy of our saying we support its democratic longings while persecuting Muslims in our midst. There isn`t a dime`s worth of difference between King`s opportunism and the World War II imprisonment of our Japanese-Americans, which was preceded by sham, overheated hearings. King may pose as a patriot, but he behaves like a saboteur.

And once again a docile press fails to ask the obvious questions. How much have similar witch hunts cost the taxpayer? How much do hearings cost? Where does the money come from? Who controls it? Who allocates it? A stenographic press that duly reports what Wagnerian deficit hawks have to say about debt stands with its collective mouth open as a headline-hawk announces his plans to dig us further into debt.

Congress should be figuring out how to improve the American economy, not hunting down imaginary demons. Witch hunts are the sure mark of incompetents who have neither the brains or the stomach for solving the problems they were elected to solve.

Djelloul Marbrook is a retired newspaperman. His second book of poems, Brushstrokes and Glances, will be published by Deerbrook Editions on December 20, 2010. His first book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. It won the International Book Award in 2010. His novella, Artemisia`s Wolf, will be published by Prakash Books of India in December. His novella, Saraceno, was recently published as an e-book. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal Latté first prize in fiction in 2008. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.

Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm

New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/

Artists Hill, Literal Latté`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/

His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com

His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com

His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com