Out with the old Islamophobe, in with the new: Texas Republican tapped to chair Homeland Security committee

US Politics
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Rep. Mike McCaul is set to take over as head of the
Homeland Security Committee (Photo: Cliff Owen/AP Photo)

When the news broke that Peter King (R-NY) was stepping down from his post as head of the House Homeland Security Committee due to party-imposed term limits, those concerned with Islamophobia breathed a sigh of relief. But his replacement, Mike McCaul (R-TX), may be no better. What the Republicans essentially did is replace one anti-Muslim lawmaker with another.

King was the nation’s most prominent elected purveyor of Islamophobia. He made a name for himself as head of the Homeland Security Committee by singling out the Muslim-American community as an incubator for anti-American radicalization. King held four hearings–four separate hearings–on Muslim-American “radicalization,” despite the fact that there is no evidence to show that Muslim-Americans are prone to extremism. In fact, the evidence shows the opposite.

Now, McCaul enters the fray, and he has already given hints that he will be treating his perch as head of the Homeland Security Committee in much the same way King did. McCaul, a representative from Texas’ 10th Congressional District, recently said that the Obama administration doesn’t take the threat of terrorism seriously enough.

In a statement announcing that Republicans had voted him in as head of the Homeland Security Committee, McCaul praised King by saying that he “would like to commend Chairman Peter King for his leadership. His contributions to homeland security in the post 9/11-world have been invaluable and I look forward to continuing to work with him.” King returned the favor by saying that McCaul “is committed to securing our homeland from terrorism and ensuring that the Department of Homeland Security acts in an effective and responsible manner.”

While McCaul has yet to say whether he intends to go on with even more hearings on Muslim-Americans, his past indicates that he will, at the very least, use his bully pulpit to fear-monger about Muslims and spread Islamophobia from an officially sanctioned place. McCaul praised King’s initial hearings on Muslim-American “radicalization,” calling them a way to “end the era of political correctness.” McCaul has also suggested that there is a “correlation between Islam and national security,” as Think Progress’ Hamed Aleaziz notes.

Beyond the praise for King’s hearings, though, lies even more indications of McCaul’s antipathy towards Muslims. McCaul appeared on lead Islamophobe Frank Gaffney’s radio show last year.

Gaffney, a top neoconservative and former Reagan administration official, is the director of the Center for Security Policy (CSP). The CSP is a lead pusher of the baseless conspiracy theory that Muslims are bent on taking over the US and instituting sharia law here. That theory was the basis of a report put out by CSP in 2010, which was backed by Republican members of Congress. David Yerushalmi, an extremist Orthodox Jewish Zionist who is the head of a group that explicitly states they are against democracy, is CSP’s general counsel. Gaffney, the New York Times reported, is “Mr. Yerushalmi’s primary link to a network of former and current government officials, security analysts and grass-roots political organizations.”

On Gaffney’s radio show, McCaul spoke about “the stealth jihad against the United States,” as a description on the radio site states. Gaffney opened up his segment with McCaul by asking about the “Muslim Brotherhood’s operations in the United States.” This theory–that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the US government–is one that Gaffney has pushed for a number of years, and was recently taken up by Michele Bachmann.

McCaul, of course, didn’t challenge any of Gaffney’s assertions, and played right along. McCaul also used his appearance to push the theory that Hezbollah was establishing a presence in the Western Hemisphere, specifically in Latin America. But, as PolitiFact noted when this claim made its way into the GOP primaries, there is little credible evidence that this is a real threat.

For McCaul, though, evidence doesn’t seem to mean much. And we can probably look forward to more fact-free statements about Muslims in the US in the years to come as McCaul takes the helm as head of the Homeland Security Committee.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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5 Responses

  1. Scott
    December 4, 2012, 7:00 pm

    Sounds much worse, actually. As a former New Yorker, I believe that NY congressmen are at least somewhat exposed to reality, and King’s IRAish links expose him to some moral complexity. Not to apologize for him, but this sounds worse. On the other hand, will sound more like a caricature of stupid.

    • pineywoodslim
      December 5, 2012, 8:37 am

      McCaul’s district extends from the edge of Houston to the edge of Austin with miles of farmland in between. I can’t speak for Austin, but having lived in Houston I can say that it’s as ethnically diverse as Los Angeles for example, and if the congressman ever ventures the few miles into the city he would routinely run into muslims in every walk of life. So, on occasion I would say that he like King, is “at least somewhat exposed to reality”. But also like King, doubt he’ll know what to do with it.

  2. Annie Robbins
    December 5, 2012, 2:38 am

    McCaul praised King’s initial hearings on Muslim-American “radicalization,” calling them a way to “end the era of political correctness.

    god forbid…because open racism is much preferable.

    i am praying for the day someone drives a stake thru the heart of neoconservatism and it never arises again.

  3. DICKERSON3870
    December 5, 2012, 4:02 am

    RE: “David Yerushalmi, an extremist Orthodox Jewish Zionist who is the head of a group that explicitly states they are against democracy, is CSP’s general counsel.” ~ Alex Kane

    SEE: “David Yerushalmi, Islam-Hating White Supremacist Inspires Anti-Sharia Bills Sweeping Tea Party Nation”, by Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, 3/02/11

    [EXCERPTS] You’ve gotta hand it to David Yerushalmi. Until now, I can’t recall a Jew who’s ever been called a white supremacist before (actually now that I think of it, I called him a Jewish white supremacist way back in 2007). Thanks to him, we now can. . .
    . . . I’m referring to an eye-opening expose in
    Mother Jones
    about the inspiration the Jewish extremist is offering for the anti-Muslim legal initiatives
    that are sweeping the south after the victory of one such campaign in Oklahoma a few months ago. . .
    . . . One of the most delicious phrases used to describe the Jewish anti-jihadi is “white supremacist,” to which I say: if the shoe fits . . . I’ve also called him a Jewish fascist. But white supremacist will do just as well.
    As Murphy notes, this is a guy who endorses the principle that “Caucasians” are superior to blacks and that Jewish liberals are a cancer in the U.S. body politic. The nearest Jewish “intellectual” antecedent I can determine would be Meir Kahane. But Yerushalmi’s views are far more radical than Kahane’s. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2011/03/02/david-yerushalmi-islam-hating-white-supremacist/

  4. piotr
    December 5, 2012, 5:49 am

    People closer to the Atlantic coast think that so-called heartland is an idyllic zone where people invent dangers out of sheer boredom. Can Sharia threaten Oklahoma and Nebraska? Actually, ever since a senatorial candidate (later elected) described the menace of “lesbianism in girls’ bathrooms in the Middle Schools of South-East Oklahoma”, I believe that everything is possible in the Tornado Alley.

    From Atrios, 2004:
    Listen to the Republican candidate for senator from Oklahoma say this:

    You know, Josh Burkeen is our rep down here in the southeast area. He lives in Colgate and travels out of Atoka. He was telling me lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they’ll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that’s happened to us?”

    Tom Coburn, 8/31/04

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