Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee lashed out at Republican Rep. Pete King’s committee hearing on terrorism Thursday, referring to herself at least once in the third person, and saying that the meeting was “tainted” and “playing into al Qaeda.”
The hearings are the first in a series held by the House Committee on Homeland Security on radicalization in American Muslim communities.
“I’m reminded of someone, a proverb, now quoted by Sheila Jackson Lee, cleaning a dirty kitchen, you can’t clean it with dirty water,” Jackson Lee, who has a reputation for being one of the most difficult bosses on the Hill, said at the beginning of her five-minute rant. “There are no redeeming factual information that we will receive today that can add to the abhorrence that all of us have on terrorism in the United States of America. We don’t disrespect the witnesses, at least I do not, but you see, it has already been tainted, this hearing. There are no loud signs of reasonings that are coming through this hearing. The reason is because it has already been classified as an effort to demonize and to castigate a whole broad base of human beings. I cannot stand for that.”
Jackson Lee then reached for a copy of the U.S. Constitution.
“I brought with me the Constitution, the living, breathing document. The First Amendment allows us the freedom of religion. The freedom of association and expression,” she said. “But I will tell you today, that this breathing document is in pain.”
Turning to Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, the head of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy and a witness at the hearing, she asked, “Mr. Jasser, may I just ask, are you a Muslim?”
“I’m a devout Muslim who prays and fasts and tries to raise my kids to be conservative orthodox Muslims, yes I am,” he replied.
“Thank you, sir. Are there any other Muslims on the witness table?” she asked. There were.
“The reason why I ask that question is because Muslims are here cooperating,” Jackson Lee said. “They are doing what this hearing has suggested that they do not do! It is an irony and an outrage that we are wasting time when Muslims are sitting before us, a Muslim is on this panel, a Muslim has testified, so I question, where are the uncooperative Muslims?”
Jackson Lee concluded her time with a final word against the hearings:
“Millions of Americans find community, comfort and support in their faith. That includes President Obama, who is a Christian but spoke in Cairo. So today reminds us that being religious is never un-American! Being religious is quintessentially American. God bless America!”
“This hearing is playing into al Qaeda right now around the world. It is diminishing soldiers that are on the front line that are Muslims. Those who lost their lives, and it is going in the same route as in Arizona and other states.”