Congressional Hearings on Islamic Extremism Will Be Counterproductive

Representative Peter King, Chair of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, has scheduled hearings on Islamic extremism to begin March 10.  There is no benefit to holding these hearings, which will in some ways be counterproductive.

1.  Everybody already knows the world-wide problems caused by Islamic extremism.  The hearings will not reveal anything new.  It will just make it appear that we are picking on the vast majority of Muslims who are not violent extremists.

2.  This is a public relations opportunity for Muslims, if reasonable Muslims testify they are just trying to peacefully coexist and live the American dream, like most American Christians, Jews, and atheists.  It is unfair and discriminatory to pick on a whole class of people because of the actions of a few.  This public relations opportunity is there for them even if (which I don’t believe) 90 percent of them would blow up airliners if they had the chance.

3.  In a society based on the principle of individual liberty, we treat people as individuals, not members of a group.  These principles support individuals’ responsibility for their own actions, and do not hold some responsible for the behavior of others who are members of their group.  The whole idea behind these hearings is collectivist and anti-libertarian.

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas: Taxation, Foundations, and Philanthropy in America .
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