A hearing recently held by the House Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Congressman Peter King, drew media criticism for its topic: the potential radicalization of the American Muslim community. There was enormous media attention. Another hearing days later, held by Rep. Chris Smith ( NJ R-4th), chairman of the Helsinki Commission, focused on Northern Ireland and was ignored by the media. However, the two were linked in a way that exposed a long standing bias on the conflict in Ireland. Therein lays a tale. The state-sponsored terrorism and systematic injustice of Britain in Ireland was exposed in testimony before the commission by human rights activists and victims. Most compelling was that of Raymond McCord, a unionist Protestant who detailed how the British government sponsors and protects to this day a gang of loyalist murderers. A tapestry of Britain’s deceit and killing was woven by others concerning the McGurk’s bar bombing, the Ballymurphy slaughter by British paratroopers, and the farce of the Historical Inquiries Team. The latter is England’s version of a truth commission when you know the trail leads back to the government. The witnesses were not living in a third world dictatorship, or under a Middle East monarchy, but subjects of her majesty’s government which incessantly claims a “special relationship” with our government. Congressman Peter King is a recognized expert on the Anglo-Irish conflict and realized long ago the struggle there was about civil rights abuses, injustice, the corruption of law, anti-Catholic discrimination and the fight to be free of it all. The armed struggle was an inevitable consequence of persecuting a religious minority. Before King could gavel in his hearing he was vilified by commentary across the country. Who was he to smear Muslims as supporting violence when he consorted with IRA terrorists? Why this assertion when most who made it were not concerned with the documented record of homegrown Islamic extremists and their successful and failed attacks in the U.S., and were shocked that the Homeland Security Committee could be so politically incorrect. But who better to tackle this challenge? King’s district was home to 150 victims of the 9/11 attacks and, as noted by Robert Kolker in New York magazine, he was close to Muslim leaders and the Islamic Center in his District until they began to suggest Jews were behind the attack. He probably knows more Muslims and has traveled to more countries with Moslem majorities than his critics. There is also a whiff of British presence when IRA stories about King were being cited by previously unknown experts on the Irish conflict like Scottish journalist Alex Massie or M. L. Rosenberg. King well knows what the poisonous hatred of the fanatical cleric, Rev. Ian Paisley, did to promote violence for decades in the North of Ireland. America needs the leadership of Congressmen Smith and King. Both have challenged the conventional wisdom of British benevolence and exposed its bigotry and murder in Ireland. Political change and progress, in Ireland and elsewhere, is often not about the herd mentality, or group-think of the many, but about those few who stood up to give voice to a different view.
Michael Cummings in a member of the National Board, Irish American Unity Conference.