Thanks to all of our readers for this week’s rousing discussion of U.S. Rep. Peter King’s congressional hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims. We’re all struggling to draw conclusions from these contentious hearings.
For me, one obvious conclusion is that these issues are here to stay for the foreseeable future. The specific issue of Muslim American radicalization is a focal point, but the larger issue has been with us a long time: the role and place of Muslims and Islam in America.
There are many opinions about the King hearings, but one reason the issue is here to stay is that these hearings have popular support. A majority of Americans (56%) felt that the King hearings on Muslim radicalization would be a good idea, according to a poll taken by the Public Religion Research Institute before the actual hearings. That’s about the same level of support reported in a USA Today/Gallup poll. Less than a third of Americans (29%) though the King hearings were a bad idea.
More than 70% of Republicans say King’s hearings are a good idea, but only 45% of Democrats agree. We can expect Republicans (like Rick Santorum) to spotlight the issue of alleged Muslim extremism, especially as we begin the run up to the 2012 presidential election.
However, there is one area of agreement. Almost three quarters of Americans (72%) think Congress should investigate extremism wherever it may be, not just a focus on the Muslim Americans. Republicans (77%) and Democrats (73%) agree with this broader mission to combat homegrown terrorism.
A dose of history would also improve the debate. “It’s easy to forget,” writes columnist Bill Tammeus, “that some of the roots of terrorism were fertilized by official and unofficial American policy and action.”
What’s your conclusion?
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(Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.)