“I think it was an effort to bring an emotionally charged element into it,” she said. “It stirs up a lot of feelings, including feelings of anger, hatred, revenge, and I think if anything that Congressman King should have been looking toward solutions and not toward fanning flames of Islamophobia, which I think the hearing did.”
King has said that 9/11 has been a guiding motivator for him to pursue this issue and that his ultimate goal is to “protect America from a terrorist attack.” Though the New York attacks loomed in the background of the hearing, few lawmakers referenced them directly.
The hearings lasted for three hours as lawmakers debated whether it was appropriate to hold hearings targeting a specific faith community. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee called them a “waste of time.”
“Muslims are here cooperating,” the Texas Democrat said, referring to several Muslims on Thursday’s panel. “They are here doing what this hearing suggests they do not do.”
Republicans defended the Homeland Security chairman, saying the hearings addressed a necessary and imminent threat.
“Al-Qaida is targeting and attacking our Muslim youth,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said. “The modern Muslim is our greatest ally in fighting recruitment of Muslim youth.”
The question of whether it is appropriate to use imagery of the Twin Towers has long raged during campaign season. In 2004, some 9/11 families were angry when President George W. Bush used photos of the smoldering remains of the World Trade Center in re-election ads. Then-Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) used footage of the towers in smoke in a 2006 ad against now-Sen. Sherrod Brown (D).
On the Democratic side, Republicans complained in 2010 when Senate candidate Martha Coakley (D-Mass.) used old stock footage of the World Trade Center in an attack against Sen. Scott Brown (R).
“Using the image of a site where over 2,700 Americans died in a terrorist attack to distort Scott Brown’s position on regulating Wall Street is both distasteful and disrespectful,” a National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman complained at the time.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.