Congressman King lends his expertise
Whenever a great crime occurs in our land, particularly one with a “trending” characteristic like terrorism has now, our leaders are told in private session what the law enforcement people have discovered and then they reveal this information to us in pieces so as to appear on top of things and to enhance their face time on television. This is a favorite pastime of our national legislators, who have no executive function and really cannot assist in any way, but it provides a nice break for them in their grueling daily grind of fund-raising.
We have already seen this in the latest tragedy, which took place in Boston on Monday. Senators and Congressmen have relayed some of what they have been told, each of them acting suitably “expert.” The media relay this to a public yearning to know as much as possible about a horrific event. None of these legislators can really add much expertise to what they have been told, so we needn’t tarry over any of them. Except one.
Comes Representative Peter King, Republican from the 2nd District of New York (mostly the western part of Suffolk County, the most eastern section of Long Island). Congressman King, according to The Hill, appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” that well-known depot of morning blather, usually with a rightward tilt, to declare that the bombing was a well-coordinated “terrorist attack.”
“Amateurs don’t do that, so this was well-planned and coordinated. It’s a terrorist attack, it’s a question of who did it,” he continued. “We have to consider if it was Islamic Jihad, it could also be white supremacists, anti-government people, all of that is being looked at right now.”
You know, the same sort of stuff, depending on your definition of “terror,” is either self-evident or unsupported. Peter King, however, is one of those who argue for a broader definition of “terror.” He, for example, labeled Wikileaks a “terrorist organization.” But before we judge him too harshly, let’s remember the times. During those days when the disclosure of diplomatic cables nearly toppled our Republic, we were all grief-stricken by the carnage wought by Wikileaks.
Congressman King has been in the news quite a bit recently. A lifelong Republican, from what was a bedrock of conservative modern (that is, paleolithic) Republicanism (Suffolk is right next door to where Alfonse D’Amato’s glorious reign began), and therefore he lent his weight and girth to the dismantling of the social net for the neediest Americans, he nevertheless openly criticized Republicans and the House leadership for failing to move quickly enough on aid to his constituents for recovery from Hurricane Sandy. He even suggested that New Yorkers not contribute to Republicans who opposed the aid (leaving I suppose more for himself). On another “Morning Joe” appearance, according to the Washington Post, he lashed out at Marco Rubio’s fund-raising in New York:
“Guys like Marco Rubio in Florida, with all the money that your people have gotten in Florida over the years from every hurricane that came along, and this guy has got the nerve to vote against money for New York and then come up here and try to raise money? You know, he can forget it,” King said. “He can stay home.”
Lest King, however, be forever barred from possible patronage or, deo absit, lobbyist money, he added: “I’ve always liked him, I think he’d be a great candidate.”
Well, you might think from all this that Congressman King is glib and equivocal, so why listen to him on terrorism? I will tell you, my friends. Because our hero has been to the other side. Of course, as Marlowe wisely pointed out: “that was in another country,/ And besides, the wench is dead.” Yet I bring it up to show how he knows whereof he speaks. I refer of course to King’s support of the IRA. Not the venerable GOP replacement for Social Security, but rather the organization that dealt in arms and, let’s be frank, terror. As I’ve said before, King was not just a casual fan; he was a fervent supporter of the IRA. It was one of his original talking points, before he landed the bully pulpit of “Morning Joe.” It was his claim to fame, the impetus for his rise to merited national acclaim. The Daily Beast gives his background:
In the 1980s, he was a prominent fundraiser for Noraid, the Irish-American organization that raised money for the IRA and was suspected of running guns to Ulster, too. Indeed, King’s rise to prominence within the Irish-American movement was predicated upon his support for the IRA at a time when New Yorkers were softer on terrorism than they are now. Noraid helped win King his seat in Congress, making him, in some respects, the terrorists’ Man in Washington.
On his travels to Northern Ireland, King would stay with members of the IRA and spend his evenings in IRA drinking clubs, soaking up the atmosphere and, I dare say, enjoying the craic.
In 1982 he told a pro-IRA rally in Nassau County, New York, that “We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.” That same year, an IRA bomb killed eight people in London’s Hyde Park. Two years later, the IRA almost succeeded in murdering the British prime minister. Only good fortune saved Margaret Thatcher’s life. In 1987, an IRA bomb murdered 11 civilians in Enniskillen during the annual Remembrance Day service. These are merely some of the more infamous IRA atrocities. There isn’t space here to list them all.
King was such a well-known figure in Northern Ireland that one judge presiding over a murder case in which the accused were members of the IRA, threw King out of his Belfast courtroom because, as the judge put it, “he was an obvious collaborator with the IRA.”
So let no one tell you Congressman King is just another blowhard. He is a blowhard, yet more: he has reason to blow. You might be curious, however, how someone such as he was selected by the GOP in the House to chair the House Committee on Homeland Security. Old-timers among you might remember the days when actually being on the side of terrorists might raise security flags or even police scrutiny. The answer of course is that he was elected. And in the words of one of our profoundest political philosophers, Elizabeth Taylor: “Success is a great deodorant.”