Muslim McCarthyism?

A Republican New York congressman plans to go ahead with House hearings that, in and of themselves, could provide fodder for an al-Qaeda recruiting campaign.

Peter King, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, plans to explore what he describes as homegrown Muslim “radicalization.” King’s approach potentially is as dangerous as it is counter to American values.

For one thing, it risks tarring with one brush the millions of Muslim U.S. citizens. That would be a gross disservice to a population already under the microscope due to the crazed acts of radical Islamists.

The premise of the hearings invites inevitable comparisons to McCarthyism. King’s hearings will tell Congress nothing about the terror threat, while needlessly stirring anti-Muslim sentiment.

Respected security experts also question whether scapegoating an entire religious group will backfire. What better rallying cry for extremists than to point out that Muslims, as a group, are being targeted for unfair attention?

One way to assure King’s dubious premise that law enforcement isn’t getting cooperation from U.S. Muslims in their antiterrorism efforts is to fuel the notion that Muslims can’t be as patriotic as any other citizen.

Were King to broaden his focus, his hearings might actually unearth useful insights. There’s no word, though, that he plans to delve into radicalization among other groups, including homegrown militia members, skinheads, neo-Nazis, or any others.

The nation’s effort to deter and detect terrororist plots would be far better served by building trust with all communities, including Muslims. In such an influential post, King should contribute to that effort — not tear it down.