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Peter King hearing: Why won't media – or Muslims – address Islamism in America?

America’s freedoms aren't in danger from Islamists. But we can't ignore Islamist influences on Muslim-American organizations. It is not enough for Muslims here simply to assert their rights but also to address questions whose continued neglect fuels understandable anxieties.

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How worried should we be about Muslims in America?

That question lies at the heart of this week’s controversial hearing about radicalization in America’s Muslim community chaired by Rep. Peter King (R) of New York. Supporters call it a timely investigation. Critics call it a witch hunt.

But as Arab uprisings raise prospects for broader Islamist governance in the Middle East, both sides should use the hearings to reflect on how US policies toward Islamists overseas could inform the way we address Muslim activists here at home. Despite obvious differences, there are some parallels worth pondering.

Whether overseas or at home, we have typically muddled along, often pursuing the path of least resistance.

In Egypt, this meant supporting a dictator who kept the Islamists at bay. Here in the US, our approach has been more multifaceted, but ad hoc and opportunistic nevertheless.

A day of reckoning

Consequently, the day may come when we wake up, as we have in Egypt, to the realization that our aversion to more-demanding, far-sighted approaches leaves us with fewer and less-palatable options here at home than we would like.

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