I would like to start a new feature called "idiot of the week" in which I will reward individuals who stood out through their recklessness, craziness or general stupidity.
I originally wanted to give this week's award to Mouammar Kadhafi for a lifetime of service to the causes of shamelessness and idiocy. But then came US Representative Peter King whose incendiary attacks on Muslim Americans caught my attention.
If you don't know the story you can check this article. Here is the condensed version: New York Representative Peter King decided that it was high time to raise his public profile and score political points with the Republican base. To do so, he decided to go after an easy target: the US Muslim community. His problem: US Muslims are getting more and more radical, have ties to terrorist groups and are not cooperating enough with law enforcement agencies. Citing dubious statistics that he most likely made up on the spot, he basically singled out an entire community and called for the organization of congressional hearings on "The extent of radicalization in the American Muslim community and that community's response". Oh and did I mention that it was subsequently discovered that King used to be a vocal supporter of the IRA (the Irish terrorist group that routinely bombed civilian targets)? Even funnier than the inconsistency was King's justification. He defended his position by saying that "the IRA never attacked America" (yeah, who cares about the British after all?) and that "it was a force that was there" (so, to paraphrase Jon Stewart, it's ok to be a terrorist if you occupy time and space).
With these hearings, King risks turning his allegations into a self fulfilling prophecy. Extreme ideologies feed on people's craving for a cause, a sense of belonging of whatever kind. This craving appears when individuals feel alienated and rejected by one of the most basic communities of all: the nation. When people loose the feeling that they belong to a nation of equals, a community of men and women who adhere to the same basic principles and moral values, it creates a void. It is this void that extreme ideologies strive to fill.
Therefore what King is doing is not only despicable, it is also highly dangerous. The implicit message he is sending is that Muslims are second rate Americans that are guilty until proved innocent. At a time when Al Qaeda is fading into irrelevance in the Arab world, King is basically strengthening its claim that the Western democracy and Islam are fundamentally incompatible.
So congratulations Mr King! You efforts to alienate what was and remains one of America's most well-integrated minorities are nothing short of remarkable. This fine display of bigotry and inconsistency earns you the very first "idiot of the week" award and I have the feeling that it won't be your last.