Another attempted terror attack, another chance for Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) to try to gain a political advantage.
In recent years, the New York Republican has gained a reputation for demagoguing every terror incident by hyping the threat of radical Islam and suggesting that Democrats’ policies are putting Americans’ lives at risk. And now he’s back at it.
The morning after a homemade car bomb was found near Times Square, King took to CNN to offer a seemingly bizarre potential explanation for the attempted attack. “It’s one possibility out of 100,” said the congressman faux-judiciously. “But this vehicle was close to a Viacom building, which owns MTV and Comedy Central. And you have the whole issue with ‘South Park,’ which Islamic terrorists were threatening to have retribution for. So all of these things have to be looked at.”
King was referring to a recent episode of South Park, which runs on Comedy Central. In the episode’s first installment, the prophet Muhammad was shown in a bear suit. That prompted the leader of a radical Islamist group to write online that the show’s creators “will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh,” adding: “This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.” Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker, was murdered by a radical Islamist in 2004, after making a film that accused Islam of supporting violence against women. A subsequent installment of the South Park episode blacked out the Muhammad character.
King’s intention in raising South Park, then, appears to have been designed to create comparisons with the Van Gogh murder, which set off a debate about Islam’s compatibility with the western values of openness and tolerance. Asked by TPMmuckraker for additional evidence that the attack was motivated by South Park, a spokeswoman for King did not immediately offer any.
But King — whose own past ties to a one-time terror group are rarely mentioned in polite company — wasn’t finished. Though yesterday, he declared himself “satisfied” with the Obama administration’s handling of the incident, that had changed by today. Now that a suspect, Faisal Shahzad, has been arrested, King is joining other Republicans, including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in heatedly warning of the danger of following the law. “Did they Mirandize him?” King asked Politico. “I know he’s an American citizen but still.”
The FBI has not explicitly said how long after his arrest Shahzad was read his Miranda rights, but it has said it interrogated him and obtained useful information.
King and the GOP have beaten this drum before, of course. Late last year, King loudly complained about the decision to put Umar Abdulmutallab, the underwear bombing suspect, into the justice system, including reading him his Miranda rights.