Pete King says 'The Third Jihad,' and Kelly's cameo, are 'very appropriate'
Representative Peter King doesn't have a problem with NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly's appearance in the controversial film "The Third Jihad."
"To me, I think it was very appropriate for Commissioner Kelly to be in the film," King, a Republican from Long Island, told me this afternoon. "I know what Ray and the mayor are saying, but I think it was appropriate."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the film, which warns of extremism among American Muslims, was "not appropriate," even as he has repeatedly defended Kelly for appearing in it.
The film, which was shown on a loop to nearly 1,500 officers undergoing anti-terrorism training, was narrated by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim physician and activist, who was also a key witness in King's Homeland Security Committee hearings early this year examining the role of Muslim extremism in America.
"To me, to have someone like Jasser, who's an expert in the community, giving his view of what the threat is, is very legitimate," King said. "Obviously he's a devout practicing Muslim, so he's not demonizing all Muslims. His point of view, whether people agree with it or not, is a very legitimate one. I think that if we're going to have any kind of open discussion and debate and free speech, it's actually helpful for police to be exposed to that type of thing. I happen to agree with Jasser, but even if I didn't, I think it's a very legitimate point of view."
King said he wouldn't have a problem if the video was screened as a formal part of the officers' training, but that he also wouldn't have a problem with another opinion being shown too, citing his own invitation to Keith Ellison to present an alternative view at his Homeland Security Committee hearings.
This morning, King's re-election campaign emailed supporters, encouraging them to read Dr. Nasser's editorial in the New York Post, responding to a New York Times editorial that called it a "hateful film."
In the email, King said the "rabid" reporters and editors at the Times "an apologist and mouthpiece for Islamist groups such as CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations)."
King told me the controversy would probably last as long as the Times wanted it to.
"I think so long as the New York Times is breathing, they're going to be going after any type of strong counterterrorism effort," he said.