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Ashwin Madia Headshot

Peter King's Hearings Hurt Our Troops

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Quick question - which U.S. President was the first to hold Ramadan itfar dinners at the White House, celebrating the breaking of the fast with Muslims? Hint: That same President visited Mosques more than once during his administration.

Many FOX News viewers may assume that it's President Obama. But, it was actually George W. Bush.

It's no secret that VoteVets.org had a number of issues with President Bush, most notably his decision to go to war in Iraq, and how he waged the war. However, one thing he understood, and often got right, was sending signals to reassure the Muslim world that the United States held no animus towards Islam, both in words and deeds.

I thought of President Bush as the debate heated up over Rep. Peter King's hearings today on Islam in America.

Rep. King is doing our troops no favors, as he specifically targets Muslims, and only Muslims, in his hearings on domestic terrorism. A key part of the work of our troops abroad is winning the hearts and minds of the people in any country we operate, and as of right now, most of them are Muslims. When they hear that the American government considers Islam a threat, and is investigating American Muslims, it only bolsters the message of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups that we are in a war with Islam.

Every wrong signal can be exploited, as we are in this important fight, and we must be extra-vigilant in ensuring that nothing we do aids the underlying message of our enemies, as they seek to recruit. Some signals, of course, are out of our control, like rumors that a soldier used the Quran as toilet paper at Guantanamo. But those things make it even more important that those in power do everything they can to combat the notion that we target this one religion. Peter King's hearings do just the opposite.

Now, there is no doubt that extremists who pervert the message of Islam present a threat to our security, and we need to continue to keep on top of them. Those who are protesting Peter King's hearings aren't saying we should be naïve about the threats we face - and any argument to the contrary is laughable. But, those extremists who are Muslim are not the only home-grown terrorists. In fact, just the other day, police in Washington State arrested a White Supremacist they suspect is behind the plot to set off a bomb at a Martin Luther King Day parade. I would say that plot was extremism and terrorism.

If Representative King was truly concerned about the threat of domestic terrorism, his hearings would cast a wide net, and examine every threat, regardless of heritage or religion. That would not only help us better understand threats within the United States, but would also make clear to the larger world that we do not target Muslims because of their religion.

But Congressman King doesn't seem interested in that - this is a political show to play to the fringe base, not a real attempt to better our security. And, unfortunately, it comes at the expense of our troops fighting overseas, who can't afford to have news of "a US lawmaker's anti-Islam hearings" floating around the population with whom they're trying to work.