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Peter King and the radical islam hearings

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Bill Ritters daily take on the news.

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

I've been trying to look for opportunities to express positivism - some people actually think I'm too skeptical; imagine that? - and so I'm viewing these hearings by New York Congressman Peter King into "the radicalization of Muslims" as an opportunity for Americans to better understand Islam. And to better understand that, while many of the world's terrorists are Muslim, a small minority of Muslims are terrorists.

That notion was pushed hard by President Bush this past decade, and, despite the rantings of some cable TV bloviators, there's no reason to isolate or intern an entire religion just because of an extremist and violent few.

King and his hearings have come under much criticism; those who oppose the hearings say they smack of a witch hunt reminiscent of the anti-Communism McCarthyism of the 1950s. One Democrat on the committee said today that he worries the hearings might actually inspire terrorists.

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And there is no small irony with King chairing the hearings: He was an ardent supporter of the radical, bomb-throwing, murderous, but liberation-minded Irish Republican Army in the 1970s and 1980s.

What would he have thought of Congressional hearings into the radicalization of Irish people back then? I think we know.

But, as I say, maybe this is a chance to offer the flip side of Islam; the peaceful side. It's there, even though it's often overshadowed by the fundamentalist, violent minority.

So, perhaps despite the criticism, some positive things might come out of these hearings. Islamic fundamentalism and extremism will be defeated, in the end, not by counter-intelligence or military might, but by the actions of moderate Muslims, who will do something to ensure that extremists no longer hijack the religion.

I'm just sayin'.

We'll have the latest on the hearings - and the fallout - tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we're likely to lead with weather - because drenching rains are on the way, and that's bad news indeed for thousands of folks who live by already-swollen rivers, especially in New Jersey.

Heavy flooding is expected over the next few days, as rivers crest, and aren't likely to subside until well into next week. Meteorologist Lee Goldberg is leading our coverage tonight, and we'll have reporters out in it as well.

Several interesting health-related stories out there today, but none more interesting than the latest report from the CDC and the National Cancer Institute: More Americans than ever are surviving cancer - so many that about one in 20 adults is a cancer survivor.

Of the survivors: 22 percent were women who survived breast cancer; nearly 20 percent were men who survived prostate cancer; and most survivors were 65 or older.

Medical experts early detection and treatment, healthy eating, and a drop in the smoking rates.

And with spring break just around the corner for many students and their families, we take a closer look at how easy - or how difficult - it is to take pets on vacations. The truth is that more hotels are now accepting pets. But getting the pets there, and taking care of them on non-familiar land, can be tricky. Consumer Reports did some investigating, and we'll have their findings, at 11.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Rob Powers with the night's sports - including the latest on the condition of Yankee great Yogi Berra, who was hospitalized today at spring training camp. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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