In the wake of the Boston bombings, Rep. Peter King has called for increased surveillance of the Muslim American community. He argued that monitoring of certain communities is nothing new.
"When the FBI was after the Westies they went to the Irish community," he said on Fox News this weekend. "When they went after the Mafia they went to the Italian community. If you know a threat is coming from a certain community, that's where you have to look."
But does the analogy hold up? Not so much, say some observers.
"It's a misinformed statement on so many levels," says TJ English, author of 'The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob.' "Law enforcement efforts to take down organized crime, whether it was Italian or Irish, never involved going after an entire community. It always involved dealing with the criminal element within a community as a very specific aspect of the community."