September 21, 2019

American Savage: The Kings (contrived) Speech

Collin Reischman is a junior journalism major and Opinion Editor for The Journal

Brown is the new red. Or so it’s been suggested during the last week, as Congress has held its hearing on radical Islam in America. The meaner than a whiskey-drinking rattlesnake Chair of Homeland Security, Rep. Peter King (R-New York) used the hearing as an opportunity to provide a blast from the past.
Muslim groups and bleeding-hearts have overstated King’s hearing as some kind of horrific step back in social progress. But I don’t agree. In a sense, King was getting us in touch with our roots.
There is a long, proud American tradition of suspicion, preemptive violence and bitterness toward whatever skin color or accent has caused us the most recent violent trauma.
Of course these are all very legitimate proceedings. They were specifically designed to examine the radicalization of American-born Muslim men under the age of 35. King and his Republican sidekicks were set to find out just how and why Muslim-American youth could become “radicalized” and how we could prevent this kind of homegrown insanity.
King’s problem is the same as every politician’s. He hasn’t got an interest in seeking an academic solution to an evidence-based problem. The anecdotal proceedings consisted of victims’ families and doctors, but few real experts.
No paid lawmaker — and certainly not a New York Republican — has the capacity to address the complex issue of radicalization. If they did, it couldn’t get it done at a televised meeting meant only for bright lights and big spectacle; usefulness be damned.
I’m sure there are legitimate threats to be found. One need only look at the strangely under-reported Ft. Hood shooting investigation to recognize the threats facing normal Americans. But whenever I imagine the sheer tragedy of a domestic act of violence, I rarely picture a dark-eyed Muslim behind the plot.
I picture a white man. He drives a truck, owns several weapons and does not care for his state or federal government.
Though his taxes are the lowest among developed nations in the world, he’s convinced that someone is taking his livelihood. He’s suspicious that the President is not an American, and possibly a Muslim.
A good ol’ boy with a clean background minus the domestic violence charge, this white man has access to plenty of resources and draws zero suspicion thanks to his genetic lottery ticket.
He owns property. Land big enough to conceal a project, one that requires some chemicals found in fertilizer on any farm in America. He rolls right past cops, security, all looking for a 26-year-old surly Muslim.
And then one otherwise unremarkable day,  something horrific happens. Dark images of Oklahoma City come to mind.  People will say they should have seen it coming. People will say all kinds of things, but there won’t ever be a single congressional hearing on homegrown, angry anti-federalist white boys with too much time and ammunition.
I can’t call King an unfair bigot, because he isn’t. Despite the death threats and tongue-lashings he’s gotten since the hearings, King remains the same flawed, over-ambitious simpleton that we find so many of our elected officials are reduced to when all the layers are peeled away.
It would be better if he was some evil fascist. If he were some great McCarthy villain that was punishing and harassing at will, then those who take part, who analyze and investigate the matter, are suddenly very important.
But no. King is just another American man wary of his neighbor. He’s the guy on the plane refusing to sit next to anyone in a turban and sadly he occasionally finds his way on  national television.

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