Using critical discourse analysis, the referred article seeks to study the ‘reproduction of racism’ against Muslim Americans in the United States Congress based on the case of the congressional hearing held on March 10, 2011, by the Homeland Security Committee of the United States House of Representatives and entitled ‘The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community’s Response’.
The study reveals polarization among US representatives on the issue. Two competing discourses emerge. On the one hand, the supporters of the hearing dismiss opposition as hysteria and an irresponsible call to political correctness that doesn’t consider the looming threat from Muslim radicalisation emanating from ‘discredited’ Islamic organizations such as CAIR (Council on American–Islamic Relations), ‘jihadist’ imams, and an acquiescent silent Muslim majority. The opposition attacks the hearing as a case of unjustified stereotyping against a whole religious community, an action that is counterproductive and ‘un-American’. While the first discourse introduces the Muslim community as the problem, the second discourse assesses it as part of the solution. The hearing mutes the voices of major Muslim-American organizations, as no representatives of mainstream Islamic organizations are called upon to testify as expert witnesses and some are expressly discredited, as in the case of CAIR.
King discourse: Muslims as the “problem” Ellison discourse: Muslims are “patriotic” “Focusing only on the Muslim community = right thing to do > threat of Muslim radicalization by al-Qaeda = real.” “Focusing only on the Muslim community = counterproductive and is scapegoating > most of domestic threat comes from anti-government + white-supremacist groups.”> American Muslims as radicals? A critical discourse analysis of the US congressional hearing on ‘The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community’s Response’+
In March of 2011, Representative Peter King, a Republican from New York and the head of the House Homeland Security Committee, held the first of a series of hearings about the Muslim community in the United States. The first hearing, entitled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community’s Response,” was received strong support from some, and drew emphatic criticism from others.
King insisted that the hearings were necessary because “homegrown radicalization is part of al Qaeda’s strategy to continue attacking the United States.” But others disagreed. Democratic Congressman Mike Honda, who was imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp as a young boy, said the hearings were “un-American, “ and others compared the hearings to those held by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s to investigate Communism in America.
In an article published in Discourse & Society, Hakimeh Saghaye-Biria analyzed the “polarized” language that was…
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