His views are laid out in a report he did for the Brookings Institution, entitled "Reformulating the Battle of Ideas: Understanding the Role of Islam in Counterterrorism Policy." First, he states that those in the United States ought to drop the term "Islamic terrorism." "The terms 'Islamic terrorism' and 'Islamic extremism' validate the terrorist claim that their ideology is, in fact, rooted in Islam," Hussain writes. For the same reason, he wants to end the use of the terms "jihadist" and "Islamofascist." This is pure bunkum, implying as it does that the Muslim world takes its cues on how to interpret Islam from Christians in the United States. But Hussain knows that. His intent isn't to protect the United States -- it's to protect Muslims globally (including radical Muslims) from having to face additional scrutiny at the airports or in the press.
Hussain's argument quickly becomes more pernicious. He argues that Americans should quit asking the Muslim world to value freedom and democracy, and instead focus on working with non-terrorist imams to convert Muslims to a non-terrorist version of Islam. In practice, this means that the U.S. should "work with Muslim governments, religious leaders … on the ground in the Muslim world." In short, cash and public relations help for governments like the Saudis, and imams sponsored by those governments. Again, this is ludicrous on its face -- the idea that Muslims around the world will accept American non-Muslims or Christian-backed Muslims preaching about the true meaning of Islam is laughable. We don't have the legitimacy to preach about Islam. We do have the legitimacy to preach about freedom and democracy.
Putting the most benign spin on Hussain's writings, he is a Muslim who hopes to convert terrorist-leaning Muslims to non-terrorist Islam. But it is not enough to convert them to non-terrorist Islam if that version of Islam is also antidemocratic and fascistic. It is far too easy for non-terrorist, freedom-and-democracy-rejecting Muslims to slip over into terrorist Islam. Hussain provides the best example of that -- after all, he himself slipped over that line in 2004 by endorsing the terrorist Al-Arian and ripping the U.S. justice system.
President Obama clearly agrees with Hussain's plans for the Muslim world. But we in the real world do not have the luxury of pretending that such plans are either realistic or morally righteous. They are neither. They justify continued repression and evil in the Muslim world, and they leave us wide open to attack in the Western world by failing to properly recognize the enemy.
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