Long Island’s Peter King is being criticized by liberals in New York for his response to DHS’s recent report on right-wing extremism. His critics want him to offer an apology for remarks viewed as insensitive or even racist:
In response to a Department of Homeland Security report about domestic right-wing extremism, King (R-Seaford) told MSNBC Friday that the department “has never put out a report talking about look out for mosques. Look out for Islamic terrorists in our country. Look out for the fact that very few Muslims come forward to cooperate with the police.”
For some, it was reminiscent of when King made national headlines in 2007 for saying there are “too many mosques in this country.” Friday’s comments were called “bigoted” by the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
King’s remarks might have been impolitic, but it’s hard to take criticism seriously from a group like CAIR, which devotes itself to squelching free speech rather than combating Muslim extremism (plenty more here). Further, his critics are distorting what King said in an effort to smear him. If you watch the full interview, King shows himself to be generally rather moderate. And he says nothing that he needs to apologize for:
First, note the exchange that begins around the 1 minute mark, and which extends to around 2:20. King defends Barack Obama’s handling of the Somali pirate situation, and calls upon conservatives not to demonize the President. At the 3 minute mark, he says that Norm Coleman needs to consider ending his challenge in Minnesota. The portion of the interview that has generated ‘controversy’ doesn’t come until around 4:10. Watch the exchange and judge for yourself whether King says anything racist or offensive.
All of this is in the context of the DHS report identifying conservatives as potential terrorists. At the 6:10 mark, King even defends Obama on the matter – saying he does not believe Obama was even aware of the report. Later – at around 7:40 – we get to the quote that King’s political opponents are trying to use against him. He draws an analogy: he characterizes the sort of report DHS might have issued if it were to use the same inflammatory language about Muslims that it did about conservatives. He asserts that if DHS were to issue a report saying that we needed to beware of Mosques and Muslims, ‘there would be hell to pay.’
If King is saying that DHS couldn’t get away with saying the same things about Muslims that it says about conservatives, he’s right. The hysterical and disingenuous reaction in the media demonstrates that. And if he’s suggesting that Muslims in the United States are more likely to pose a terrorist threat than veterans, he’s obviously right. And Janet Napolitano is making a successful terrorist attack more likely when she encourages law-enforcement to direct scarce resources elsewhere.
If you watch the whole segment, King makes all the sense in the world – and he defends Obama every time his name comes up. His political opponents are attempting to manufacture a political controversy because they know that he’s probably the most dangerous candidate Republicans can field in a statewide race in New York, and they want to damage him.