Rep. Peter King’s radical Islam hearings have generated a massive outcry, but they’re not exactly unique. In the past five years, the House and Senate have held a combined 22 hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims, Politico points out. They’ve been run by legislators on both sides of the aisle, including moderates like Susan Collins, Jane Harman, and Joe Lieberman. Civil liberties and Muslim groups have protested a few of them, but none have generated close to this level of controversy.
The main problem seems to be the guy calling the hearings. Whereas Collins has a low-key reputation, and Harman is a reputed national security policy wonk, King’s game is all about bombast, and he has said some pretty controversial things—like, for example, that the US has “too many mosques,” and that 85% of them are run by radicals, though King says those statements were taken out of context. The reaction “seems to be far more intense this time ... some of this is simply because of the rhetoric used by the person responsible for it, Mr. King," says the ACLU's chief legislative and policy counsel.