Ezra Klein Balks at Rep. King's Islamic Radicalism Hearings; 'We've Had School Shootings From Young Christians'

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein decried an upcoming congressional hearing on the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism Monday, saying that Christians engage in violence as well but are not investigated by Congress. Klein lambasted the investigation, led by the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), as an attention-grabbing ploy to demonize the American Muslim community.

"We've had school shootings from young Christians," Klein claimed on Monday's "Morning Joe." He added that there are "neo-Nazis who claim they're Christians. Is the Christian community in America so deeply vulnerable to neo-Nazis?"

Klein's point was not that Christians in America deserve an investigation by Congress, but rather that the Muslim community should not be singled out for acts of terrorism, and that they are not so vulnerable to be influenced by extremism from abroad. However, he failed to provide a single instance of violence that was itself motivated by a radical strand of Christianity.

"We have not seen it yet," Klein spoke of Muslim radicalization in America. "We have not seen it in America in a serious way yet. The Muslim community here is very different."

Klein's remarks of Christians echo another sentiment expressed by PBS' Tavis Smiley, who infamously claimed last May that American Christians engage in terrorism daily. Smiley was trying to deflect public scrutiny away from American Muslims and toward extremists that claim to be "right-wing," "anti-government," and "anti-abortion." Klein seemed to be trying to do the same during the brief but heated debate with MSNBC's Pat Buchanan.

Buchanan pointed to the Fort Hood shooting as an example of radical Islamic terror within the United States – but Klein dismissed that claim.  "There's not a ton of evidence" that it was a radicalization of the American Muslim community, Klein stated. Buchanan countered that extremists abroad are sending messages to Muslim youth in the U.S., who are listening to their radical message.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on March 7 at 7:34 a.m. EST is as follows:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Obviously there is a threat there, but it seems to me, especially after this summer and the ugliness of New York, Peter King needs to be very careful, very responsible.

EZRA KLEIN: And I think he needs to back off. I think Ellison is right, and I think if Eric Holder was staying up at night, then he can launch an investigation. What King is doing is not launching a serious investigation. What King is doing is launching publi – publicity-hounding hearings. He is trying to make his name bigger, he is doing something big and in public to scare people. That is not the same as a serious law enforcement effort to look at radicalization of the Muslim community.

SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, what do you think?

PAT BUCHANAN: Look, I think the Muslim community is particularly vulnerable to an approach from abroad to try to radicalize them and make them enemies of America. That's legitimate. Every politician, frankly, raises himself up with hearings like that. I think we ought to wait and see what Peter King does.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, it's  – Ezra, do you not think there is a threat of the radicalization of a small group of Muslims here, like for instance England – obviously, it's a much bigger problem in England that it is in the United States.

KLEIN: We have not seen it yet, and there is a good reason – we have not seen it in America in a serious way yet. The Muslim community here is very different –

BUCHANAN: Major Hassan killed 13 major Army guys and wounded 41.

KLEIN: But there's not a ton of evidence, though, that was a radicalization of American community. We've had spree shooters in America, Pat.

BUCHANAN: He's had contact with the guys abroad –

KLEIN: We've had school shootings from young Christians.

BUCHANAN: But these are guys abroad are reaching in to the United States by various modern media, and they're recruiting, and kids are listening to it. I think opening that up – I agree with you. Look, don't demonize Muslims but there's no doubt –

KLEIN: How does he not demonize Muslims by doing this?

BUCHANAN: Because radical Muslims are trying –

KLEIN: You could explain – you have one example here, and we're trying to talk about an investigation into an entire religious community. We bought from the one to the whole very quickly, and people need to be very careful doing that.

BUCHANAN: Who is most susceptible or vulnerable to the kind of recruitment coming out of the radical Islam? It's American Muslims!

KLEIN: Why do we think they're so vulnerable to it?

BUCHANAN: But why do you think –

KLEIN: There are radicals everywhere. There are neo-Nazis who claim they're Christians. Is the Christian community in America so deeply vulnerable than neo-Nazis?

BUCHANAN: Look the North American bund I would be watching those guys, if you got Hitler over there broadcasting in the United States.

KLEIN: But we do have those guys there, and we've not seen a ton happening.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014