King: Muslim Hearings "Essential"

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    Long Island Rep. Peter King said critics upset about his upcoming hearings on American Muslims are "tied up in a some world of political correctness."

    "These hearings are absolutely essential," King said. "I am facing reality. My critics are not."

    King, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Tuesday. His hearings on the "radicalization" of American Muslims begin Thursday, and have already drawn protests and criticism.

    Opponents say King's claims are discriminatory and dangerous because they send the wrong message to Muslims in America.

    King also said Tuesday that Islam is a threat that must be investigated, regardless of whether that offends anyone.

    Asked in a separate AP interview about his support for the Irish Republican Army's political wing in the 1980s and 1990s, when the IRA was involved in violence in Northern Ireland, King said the IRA and al-Qaida are very different and insisted the IRA never attacked America.

    On MSNBC, King said people testifying at his hearing this week include American families "whose sons and nephews are radicalized."

    "And they will show how the radicalization occurred," King said.

    King also noted that an NYPD inspector has been working with his committee; a City Hall spokesman said the staffer recently began working with the Homeland Security Committee on a number of issues, not the hearings in particular.

    Mayor Bloomberg, who is usually an outspoken advocate of civil rights, has been reluctant to join the criticism of King this week. Asked about the hearings Monday, Bloomberg said he respects King and doesn't happen to agree with him on this one issue.

    The opposition has been joined by a number of notable names, including Al Sharpton, Russell Simmons and Kim Kardashian.