Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) told CBS News today in a one-on-one interview that the "Muslim radicalization" hearing planned for this Thursday unfairly targets Muslim Americans living in this country. The first Muslim member of the United States Congress argued that violent radicalization is a "phenomena we see across our society" and across religions.
"Look at people who bomb abortion clinics- are these not people who are radicalized?" Ellison asked. "Are they not using violence? Are they not motivated by religious devotion?"
Ellison said that to "target one religious community, one religious group is a bad idea."
While Ellison insists that he is not personally offended by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King (R-NY) calling the hearing, he does believe that to "use the gavel to do something like that is a misuse of the gavel."
"I do think that Congressman King is a man who wants to see our country safer. I think he's going about it the wrong way" Ellison said. "To say we're talking about radicalization of the Muslim community widely is the very essence of scapegoating."
Ellison has compared the hearings to the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s where Senator Joe McCarthy targeted, wrongly in many instances, socialists in the United States. He told CBS News that he still stands by the comparison.
"I do think this is McCarthyistic" he said. "McCarthy used a congressional hearing to go after people he didn't like and he kind of insinuated and associated people with an ideology that he then used to persecute and oppress them with. I mean, it has its parallels."
Ellison will testify at Thursday's hearing along with family members of two Muslims who were radicalized and committed terrorist acts.
He said that he will tell members of the Homeland Security Committee that "Muslims have, and will, do all we can to protect our country, but that singling out one group and associating the whole group with terrorism is not only untrue, it mis-serves the ends of public safety and we got to find a much better and effective way to do what Representative King is trying, but sadly failing, to do."