Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Please, Don't Shoot the Messenger

March 1, 2011

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

No one loves the bearer of bad news, but attacking the messenger often seems easier than addressing the issue at hand. This has become a reality when discussing the current problem of homegrown terrorism and radicalization in the Islamic community. In the last 12-18 months the number of incidents involving individuals who, after becoming exposed to some form of radical Islamic teaching, then carried out or attempted to carry out vicious and violent acts against the United States, has increased. Yet it seems that immediately following the reporting of any of the individual cases, there proceeds an outcry from certain Muslim community organizations of entrapment or Islamophobia.
This happened in the case of Major Nidal Hassan, the Fort Hood shooter. It also happened in the case of the Newburgh Four and more recently in the cases of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, the Portland Christmas tree bomber, and Antonio Martinez who plotted to blow up a military recruiting station outside of Baltimore in December Immediately following the reporting of the facts of the stories, out would march a spokesperson from the Council on American Islamic Relations or the Muslim Public Affairs Committee to issue a statement denouncing the legitimate law enforcement use of informants and undercover activities in their communities. Taking it a step further in February of this year CAIR and the ACLU joined hands to file a lawsuit against the FBI alleging discrimination and selective investigation of individuals based on religious belief. This strategy of litigation for the purpose of inhibiting or intimidating is often referred to as “lawfare” and has been used against both governmental agencies and individuals who have written about the phenomena of radicalization in the Islamic community.
If that tactic didn’t work, often times spokespersons talking in “PC Speak”(political correctness) would  attempt to disassociate the individual terrorist from his religious beliefs. Saying it was irrelevant to the facts of the case. As if somehow ignoring the elephant in the room would make it go away. When Nidal Hassan shouted “Allah Akbar” before opening fire on his fellow soldiers it was relevant. When Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square Bomber tells the sentencing judge, “Brace yourself for war with Muslims…” It is very relevant.  Yet some current Islamic organizations in the United States often find it easier to obscure the facts and attack the messenger than to address the very real issue of radicalization in their community.
I’m often reminded of the old TV show “Dragnet” when Detective Joe Friday would say these famous words; “all we want are the facts ma’am” or to paraphrase, “just the facts ma’am, just the facts”
Facts don’t lie and denying them won’t make them go away. A search for the facts or the reporting of the facts surrounding homegrown terrorism should not be met with an attack on the messenger.
This type of strategy has also been demonstrated in the political arena. When Representative Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee announced that he intended to hold hearings on the issue of homegrown terrorism and radicalization, it was immediately met with opposition from certain Muslim organizations even though King had stated that he intended to invite Muslim community leaders to the hearings for their testimony.
Instead of welcoming an opportunity to tell their side of the story, out marched Abed A. Ayoub, the legal director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, saying that King’s proposal "has bigoted intentions." Followed by Salam al-Marayati, the executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who thinks King "basically wants to treat the Muslim-American community as a suspect community." And finally CAIR issued its response saying, “King has a long history of extremist rhetoric and baseless allegations against American Muslims…” adding, “Congressman King seems determined to go forward with his witch hunt targeting the Muslim community.” 
It seems they have already prejudged the process before it has begun.
So what will happen to those who come forth to offer testimony before the committee? Will they be ostracized or vilified for their participation? Will moderate Muslims who are genuinely concerned about the influence of radical Islamic teaching in their communities be intimidated or threatened with ostracism if they come forth to participate in the hearings. Let us hope not.
Reasonable people can disagree about the facts. They can also debate the facts, but please don’t shoot the messenger who brings the facts to light.
(this article originally appeared in FamilySecurityMatters.org)