Peter King, Visit My Class

It’s hard to believe that as far back as 2007, Peter King was saying that there were too many mosques in this country. Ostensibly, it is because he believes Muslims go to mosques to be radicalized. He believes that 80% of the mosques in this country are radical hotbeds. His evidence is a statement made by Hisham Kabbani back in 1999. The problem is that this zombie lie, to use the words of Media Matters, has been thoroughly debunked.

I am from and teach in King’s backyard: I am an educator, and I used to teach at Hofstra University, on Long Island, where I spent some time growing up. I wish King had taken time from his busy schedule of watching 1999 TV and attended one of my classes. In fact, he should consider this an open invitation. One of the things I urge my students to engage in is evidence-based argumentation. Look at a piece of information, evaluate its source, and try to understand how others consider that source. With that in mind, King should know that not only has the personal opinion of Kabbani been debunked as a factual statement, but that actual academic studies come to a strikingly different conclusion than King and Kabbani.

In 2010, The Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security issued a report entitled “Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim American Communities,” which argues based on sociological evidence that mosques are actually important sites for moderating religious extremism, and that most people who become radicalized are divorced from any religious community. In the last week,  the Muslim and American Public Opinion Survey, a project hosted by The University of Washington, Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality, released an analysis of data collected in 2008, in which the authors lay out a correlation between civic engagement and mosque attendance. In other words, the more Muslims are engaged with their prayer spaces, the better citizens they are. The data come from 2008, long before the Park51 controversy or the Peter King hearings.

So, Rep. King, any time you actually want to learn something about Islam, I suggest you take a local class, and I’d welcome you. You may also want to brush up on basic concepts like evidence before making an argument.