Have We Returned to 50's Era McCarthyism?

Image from KQED
Has American returned to the tactics of Joseph McCarthy's Second Red Scare, when thousands of people accused of Communist sympathies were dragged before government panels and interrogated, often leading to the loss of jobs, careers, and imprisonment?  That was the question posed on NPR this morning in response to the House Homeland Security Hearings, starting tomorrow.  Chaired by NY Republican Peter King, the hearings are being held to investigate the radicalization of American Muslims, specifically looking at the tactics used by al-Qaeda to recruit from within the American Muslim community.  500 protesters gathered in Times Square over the weekend to protest the hearings, upset that American Muslims are being specifically targeted.  A New York Times article quotes King, '“That’s absolute nonsense,” Mr. King said in a telephone interview interview, adding that al-Qaeda was trying to radicalize Muslims and that its effort was the leading homegrown terrorism threat.'  The White House has already tried to quell doubts among Muslims about the true purpose of the inquiry.  On NPR's Forum program today, a variety of experts pointed out that al-Qaeda's recruitment among American Muslims has been small in scale and resulted in few actual recruits.  So why, exactly, are we holding hearings?