How great is the danger of extremist violence in the name of Islam in the United States? Recent congressional hearings into this question by Rep. Peter King (Republican of New York), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, have generated a firestorm of controversy among his colleagues, the press, and the general public.
Though similar hearings have taken place at least fourteen times since 2001, King was labeled a latter-day Joe McCarthy and the hearings called an assault on civil liberties and a contemporary witch-hunt.
Yet the larger dilemmas outlined by both the congressman and some of his witnesses remain: To what extent are American Muslims, native-born as well as naturalized, being radicalized by Islamists? And what steps can those who are sworn to the protection of American citizenry take that will uncover and disrupt the plots of those willing to take up arms against others for the sake of jihad?