The Common Good

Rep. King is Saying 'No' in the Face of Jesus

At the climax of The King's Speech, I held my breath with the rest of the packed audience and hoped to God that history was kind to King George VI. His sudden ascension from the dutiful stuttering brother to the noble King who led Britain through World War II was one worth watching. Rep. Peter King's ascension, however, is another story.

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Today, another kind of "King" is ascending to make his mark on the annals of history. But his mark will only merit a few ballistic blogs and a few twittering tweets. My tweet read: "Peter King's anti-Muslim hearing unites Long Islanders, Republicans, Christians to Dennis Kearney and Joseph McCarthy legacy. #kinghearings"

Dennis Kearney's political posturing and racist rhetoric led to the 1877 Chinese Exclusion Act and Joseph McCarthy's 1954 guilt-by-association anti-commie campaign led Americans through their own political version of the Spanish inquisition. Kearney and McCarthy fashioned some of the darkest days in American history. They led us away from our values -- away from our ideals. Kearney and McCarthy stoked the embers of fear until they became a bonfire that consumed the soul of America, leaving only destruction, alienation, and crushed images of God in their wake. Now it seems Peter King is hell-bent on leading us into darkness again.

The most shameful part of this anti-Muslim-American melodrama is King's Long Island constituents, his party, and those who share his Roman Catholic Christian faith are being forced to partake in the legacy of King's like-minded historical players. History will look back on this moment with a "tsk-tsk" and a waving finger, and with all the flying blogs and tweets, King won't be the only one implicated. People from Long Island will be reminded -- they elected him. Republicans will be reminded -- they did not censure him. And Christians will be reminded -- they sat silent and let their spiritual brother lead the country away from God and into darkness.

And what does darkness look like this time around? It looks like Rep. King looking Jesus in the face and saying "No" to his command to "Love your neighbor" (Luke 10:27-28). National security is a genuine concern, but if King really wanted to strengthen national security he would take the advice of national security experts that warn against targeting a single ethnic or religious group for examination. That tactic only weakens us in the end. Better to broaden the scope of the hearings to focus on the effects of radicalization on American security in general or King could sharpen the focus to examine how al Qaeda recruits in the United States. Either of these would be worthy investigations, but King's middle ground of ethnic and religious suspicion leads only to confusion, prejudice, and more fertile soil for terrorist recruitment.

Darkness also looks like Rep. King listening to Jesus say, "I am the truth" (John 14:6), then embracing lies. King has said the Muslim community is sympathetic to radical Islam and does not cooperate with law enforcement. Not true. American Muslims have been America's first and best defense against Islamic terrorist activity. Many Muslim-Americans migrated half-way across the world to flee from repressive extremist governments. They love America. They love what America stands for and they are committed to the safety of their new homeland. To boot, Islamic mosques are a proven deterrents to extremist activities.

Thus, the annals of history might record King's hearings through the tweets it inspired. Here are a few:


Lisa Sharon Harper is the executive director of New York Faith & Justice and author of Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican ... or Democrat.

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