This column appears via the Religion News Service.
- The structure of the hearings indicates that we will be no wiser after the hearings than we were before -- either regarding the extent and causes of radicalization, or American Muslims' response to it. No government or non-government experts on Islam or terrorism are invited, only non-experts. We will have witnessed only a public display of a merely alleged danger. As someone who grew up under the thumb of communist authoritarianism, the hearings smell a bit like a democratic version of the infamous show trials.
In short, the hearings will be a political spectacle, not an instrument of truth finding. They will perpetuate prejudices and perpetrated injustices against Muslim communities and will only serve to undermine our national security.
Devout Muslims seem to be a particular concern to King. But in the case of devout Muslims -- maybe especially in their case -- we can build on common values.
"A Common Word," a widely publicized 1997 document of impeccable and broadly accepted Muslim authority, argues that what binds Muslims to Christians and religious Jews is a shared commitment to love God and neighbor. What's more, as many great Christian teachers through the centuries have recognized (including the Second Vatican Council's "Nostra Aetate"), Muslims and Christians worship the same God. True, they understand God somewhat differently, but the similarities in their convictions about God are much greater than are the differences.
As a consequence, Muslims share with Christians (and Jews, on this score) a set of fundamental values, including some version of the Golden Rule -- a principle that compels you to treat others as you would want to be treated. Reaffirming such common values, and holding each other accountable to them, would do much more to improve Americans' safety
than will the King hearings.
Though the hearings may give Chairman King some partisan advantage, they will ultimately diminish his stature as a political leader (as the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations did in the case of Sen. Joe McCarthy). Much worse, the hearings will neither expose wrongdoing nor help rectify a social condition (as the Watergate hearings did), but instead perpetrate a wrongdoing and undermine national security.
We as a community of citizens, of all faiths and traditions, believers and non-believers, can do much better than this unjust, dangerous and self-defeating political charade.
Miroslav Volf is the author of the new book, 'Allah: A Christian Response.' He is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, and the Founding Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.