While Rep. Peter King (R-NY) busies himself holding hearings on the alleged radicalization of American Muslims, Jon Stewart suggests King's own shady past of openly supporting the Irish Republican Army (IRA) makes him a curious choice, to put it mildly. Presumably King is doing so for political advantage in singling out and stigmatizing Muslims with such a broad brush, using (or misusing) the spotlight King now enjoys as the incoming Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. However, such a cynical ploy may backfire.
The NY Times has more.
WASHINGTON — For Representative Peter T. King, as he seizes the national spotlight this week with a hearing on the radicalization of American Muslims, it is the most awkward of résumé entries. Long before he became an outspoken voice in Congress about the threat from terrorism, he was a fervent supporter of a terrorist group, the Irish Republican Army.
“We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry,” Mr. King told a pro-I.R.A. rally on Long Island, where he was serving as Nassau County comptroller, in 1982. Three years later he declared, “If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the I.R.A. for it.”
As Mr. King, a Republican, rose as a Long Island politician in the 1980s, benefiting from strong Irish-American support, the I.R.A. was carrying out a bloody campaign of bombing and sniping, targeting the British Army, Protestant paramilitaries and sometimes pubs and other civilian gathering spots. His statements, along with his close ties to key figures in the military and political wings of the I.R.A., drew the attention of British and American authorities.
A judge in Belfast threw him out of an I.R.A. murder trial, calling him an “obvious collaborator,” said Ed Moloney, an Irish journalist and author of “A Secret History of the I.R.A.” In 1984, Mr. King complained that the Secret Service had investigated him as a “security risk,” Mr. Moloney said.
UPDATE: John Amato
What I find to be truly amazing is that if a Democratic politician was linked to a high school essay that they wrote twenty years in the past, they could be ostracized and made to resign, but if you're a Republican, you say that you had a change of heart, ask for forgiveness and then run for President at a later date. I'm not even bring up sex scandals like Elliot Spitzer and David Vitter were linked to. One is still in Congress and the other is on CNN. It wouldn't be hard to figure which one ended up where.
Ask the British people who experienced IRA violence and see how they feel about that time in their history.
Salon Reports that King supported Noraid, which was linked to a bombing that killed an American.
Now, King's standard of good versus bad terrorism seems to have a lot to do with whether King supports the cause in question, but has also specified some characteristics of acceptable terrorism. Here's what he told the Times:
Of comparisons between the terrorism of the I.R.A. and that of Al Qaeda and its affiliates, Mr. King said: “I understand why people who are misinformed might see a parallel. The fact is, the I.R.A. never attacked the United States. And my loyalty is to the United States."
It may be that the IRA never attacked inside the United States. But it's not true that the group never claimed any American victims in attacks targeting civilians. In the notorious December 1983 strike on Harrods in London, for example, an IRA car bomb was set outside the department store in the early afternoon during the busy Christmas shopping season. The bomb killed six people -- including an American citizen -- and injured another 90:
Peter King should be ousted from running this committee as he tries to whip up the fear in America just because of his past IRA ties in which he gets to differentiate what type of terrorism is good and bad.